Are you ready for some…Mike Tirico?
If the above statement confuses you, then you must not have watched ESPN’s broadcast of Monday Night Football this week.
Instead of opening the popular sports program with video of country musician Hank Williams Jr. performing his anthem “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Monday Night,” which has served as the show’s unofficial introduction for 23 years, the network skipped the segment completely and cut directly to broadcaster Tirico live in the booth as if nothing was different.
So why the sudden change?
Well, according to an article posted on Time.com the decision to cut Williams song came as a direct result of comments the singer made during an appearance on the television show “Fox and Friends” Monday morning.
While discussing the “golf summit” played this summer by President Barack Obama and Speaker of the House John Boehner with the show’s hosts, Williams said the meeting was like “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”
Though later pressed by anchor Gretchen Wilson over why he would compare the current U.S. president to one of the most hated men in history, Williams replied that he was just “telling it like it is.”
Watch video of Hank Williams Jr’s controversial appearance on “Fox and Friends” here:
In response to Williams’ words, ESPN quickly released the following statement:
“While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football. We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight's telecast.”
And a one week ban may not even be the end of the story. ESPN also hinted that the pulling of Williams from the show may become permanent depending on “how contrite the singer-songwriter is in the immediate future.”
However if it’s a formal apology that ESPN wants they may have to wait awhile.
In a message posted on his official website, Williams seemed a little less than contrite when he said, “Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood. My analogy was extreme – but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me - how ludicrous that pairing was. They’re polar opposites and it made no sense. They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the President.”
“Every time the media brings up the tea party it’s painted as racist and extremists – but there’s never a backlash – no outrage to those comparisons…Working class people are hurting – and it doesn’t seem like anybody cares. When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job – it makes a whole lot of us angry. Something has to change. The policies have to change.”
Yes, a change in this country is a must. Too many people are out of work. And the government often seems incapable of cooperating on even the most basic of issues. Still, to slip into the shameful rhetoric and hate speech that Williams did when describing our nation’s commander in chief is nothing if not in poor taste.
So unless a more polite dialogue can be reached, Williams may have very well earned his spot on the sidelines. Let’s hope he enjoys his time with Howard Cosell’s old blazer, Dan Dierdorf, and Dennis Miller on the heap of remnants from MNF's past. If time spent in that company can’t teach a man contrition, I don’t know what will.
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