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Game Over for ESPN & Hank Williams, Jr.

Hank Williams, Jr.

Hank Williams, Jr. photo courtesy of Webster & Associates.

In the latest chapter — and perhaps the final one — of the Hank Williams Jr./Monday Night Football controversy, ESPN announced today that Hank’s iconic theme song will not return to Monday Night Football. The decision comes after Hank used an analogy involving Adolf Hitler and President Barack Obama to make a political point on the Fox News Channel.

“We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr,” ESPN said in a statement. “We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”

On his own website, Hank said he was the one who made the decision to leave ESPN.

“After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision. By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.” — Hank Williams Jr

Hank’s manager, Ken Levitan, defended his client in an interview with Billboard.com on Tuesday. ”I think it was blown out of proportion,” he said. “What Hank meant was directed toward the extreme differences between the parties. I think he explained that in the statements he made afterwards. He’s a passionate guy. Obviously, he’s not an Obama fan. But I think he was talking about the two of them getting together were polar opposites. That’s what he was trying to get across.”

He added, “Did he use an extreme way of saying that? Yes. Was it potentially the wrong choice of words? I guess to the public, it was. But what he was really talking about was there being two extreme polar opposites who don’t get along — and who gets hurt by that? The public. And, when you look at all of the people hurting, the fact they don’t get along, and they were on a golf course — made Hank extremely upset.

“Do I think ESPN should have taken him off? I don’t,” Levitan continued. “I think they should have taken a look at what he was saying. Hank doesn’t have a prejudiced bone in his body, so there was no use of it that way. He treats everybody alike. He’s very passionate about the things that he is passionate about. He says what he thinks, and sometimes he’s extreme in it.”

He stresses that “the people there are huge fans of Hank’s. He’s worked with the same people there for a long time. They love Hank.”

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