ESPN severs relationship with singer Hank Williams Jr.
Hank Williams Jr., pictured on September 12, compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler in an interview this week on Fox News.
October 6th, 2011
10:33 AM ET

ESPN severs relationship with singer Hank Williams Jr.

ESPN says it has severed its relationship with singer Hank Williams Jr. following controversy over his remarks comparing President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.

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

Williams gave a very different statement: "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."

On Tuesday the singer had apologized Tuesday for his remarks which resulted in "Monday Night Football" pulling his popular musical introduction from this week's game.

"I have always been very passionate about politics and sports and this time it got the best or worst of me.

"The thought of the leaders of both parties jukin' [sic] and high fiven' [sic] on a golf course, while so many families are struggling to get by, simply made me boil over and make a dumb statement, and I am very sorry if it offended anyone. I would like to thank all my supporters. This was not written by some publicist," Williams wrote.

Williams made the comparison on Fox News this week when he was asked about Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, a Republican, playing on the same team in a June golf game.

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Filed under: Sports
soundoff (204 Responses)
  1. SomeSense

    And, again, Hank's being reprimanded, fired or any other action by an employer has NOTHING to do with the First Amendment. The First Amendment states that you can not be prosecuted for your speech and even that has always had limits. The government can't put you in jail for what Hank said but you can be fired.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
  2. John

    He's right about freedom of speech. People sit in front of their t.v for 3 hours to watch 15 minutes of football. If yo keep time when the ball is snapped and the whistle blows. Yes 15 minutes.
    Didn't james harrison make a gay comment about the commish goodell? Why wasn't he fired? What's right is right..

    October 6, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
    • leeintulsa

      Contrary to popular belief, espn and the nfl are two different companies, with different policies.

      I don't agree with what he said, but i'm VERY surprised espn took it this far..

      Perhaps they wanted to lose him for any number of reasons, and this was a good excuse..

      October 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
  3. SW in LA

    It is only a violation of the 1st amendment if you are arrested for the statement or censored by the Government. This was a business arrangement that was terminated.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  4. thunderbolt

    People are complaining about big business, then take their side when someone's political views don't match the corporations. Its the same as someone being fired for something they put on facebook that a employer didn't like. I understand boths sides and their views. I didn't say I agree, but I understand. So watch those facebook post if you want to keep your job.I also don't see the claim of comparing Obama to Hitler. He was talking about people from different sides of the spectrum, trying to work together which such different views. But as usual, the media ran with a story with partial truths, and manipulated public opinion again. I don't believe in being political correct to begin with. That is whats precious about free speech. But I guess its a myth after all, unless your a liberal democrat. I wouldn't have put it the same way that Williams did. But I did understand what he was saying, and what he wasn't.............

    October 6, 2011 at 11:38 am | Report abuse |
  5. yomamayo

    Hanks' comments were wrong

    ESPN is gutless

    Next CNN irrelevant news story please

    October 6, 2011 at 11:39 am | Report abuse |
  6. Fries With That

    Free speech works both ways, employment contracts have all sorts of clauses, and you aren't required to keep an employee or an independent contractor on your staff if they fail to meet expectations or embarrass your company.

    Furthermore, later in that interview, he called the president "the enemy": not a view conducive to free speech and discourse, democracy, or freedom.

    And frankly, I love football, but I am so sick of that one crappy song he's built his career on. Maybe Faith Hill can sing for both networks. That would be nice.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • thunderbolt

      I understand your rant, right up to the point that I remembr Obama calling the tea party the enemy. So can I fire him for embarresing me for calling fellow Americans the enemy? Let me guess, the logic changes after a point of view doesn't agree with your own?

      October 6, 2011 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
    • Bemused

      Considering what the tea party has called him, I'd say you should first address that rabid crowd.

      October 6, 2011 at 12:00 pm | Report abuse |
    • Richard

      Thunderbolt, of course you can fire Obama for calling the Tea Party "the enemy". It's called "an election", and it comes every four years as part of that particular job's performance review process. Unfortunately, the other stockholders(which is to say, voting citizens) also get their say, so the vote to terminate his employment may or may not go your way. Such is the uncertainty of having a public company, I mean, democratic government.

      I, myself, am seriously considering ending Mr. Obama's employment once the current contract is up. I just hope our other hiring options are in any way at least as, if not more, suitable to the position.

      October 6, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Report abuse |
  7. Thevoiceofreason

    Its not about first amendment, it's about taste. Mr. junior could have made any other analogy, but when you compare someone to Hitler and you work with a very public company who needs to protect it's image, then yes, they are gonna let you go.

    Have fun with your rowdy friends.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
  8. Boy1der

    What kind of tool wears a ring on his index finger AND his pinky finger??
    On the SAME HAND?

    What a turd.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:40 am | Report abuse |
    • yomamayo

      your criteria on judging people is pretty weird

      October 6, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  9. Frank

    People of the United States of America and ESPN.
    ESPN,Freedom of Speech is really non-exsistant in the United S[ates.The man was trying to make an "Analogy" in the Extreme.I think ESPN is intolerant and Politcaly Correct in there view of American Society.I do not think Hank Williams needs ESPN were as Williams stattus might may have helped ESPN bring in the
    "Good Old Boy" crowd.H.W should call for a Boycott of ESPN by viewers and Sponsors.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:42 am | Report abuse |
    • Yank Hank

      You really have no clue what the First Amendment covers, do you?

      October 6, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
    • David Robatin

      ESPN would have benefited from Hank Williams bringing the good old boys to the network? Seriously. Where do you live? Who are you smoking with? Good luck with your boycott.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:45 am | Report abuse |
  10. ryan steeler's rule

    MNF will never be the same without Hank, you got jaws droppin swears on live tv he still has his job? To be honest ESPN s-s at the whole Monday night football program bring back crazy Madien

    October 6, 2011 at 11:43 am | Report abuse |
  11. USAF Mom

    ESPN didn't trample on anything. Mr. Williams (along with Mrs. Palin) should read the text of the First Amendment, which protects speech from government interference, not idiotic statements that get people canned from their jobs because it negatively impacts their employer.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:47 am | Report abuse |
    • Yank Hank

      Thank you.

      October 6, 2011 at 11:48 am | Report abuse |
  12. carter

    If Hank wasn't good for MNF he wouldn't have been opening fr so long, we he comes on he electrifies the room.It will not be the same without him. ESPN made a big mistake, if he said it about a Republican president, I wouldn't be typing this.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:49 am | Report abuse |
    • Bemused

      Remember the outrage when cheney and george W's ".. methods" were compared to Dr. Goebbels' Nazi propaganda?
      Oh the outrage. Nobody called Bush a nazi, just compared methods, but that got every republican up in arms.
      Let's ALL tone it down a bit, ok?

      October 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Micheal

    Sorry guys!
    But Hank williams Jr will never be the man his dad was! As far as him being on ESPN ,it was really time for him to move on anyway regardless of how it happen! Making comments abt other people maybe he sld do what I do b4 opening my mouth! Think! Ask Hank y he always wears glasses and had so many operations on his face! Did obama cause that too! So b4 making comments abt anyone look in the mirror Hank! U don't do u cau ur reminded of how mad a decision u make when u amost make yourself a human torch w/ the drugs u were using! But your Father and u r two complete different people and he wld be ashamed of u! For what u did to yourself and having no respect for the President whoever might be in office! So,yes ur right, its time for u to move on! Help people from ur mistakes, don't tear them down! Good luck finding Peace!ESPN was correct in remove u cau it was just time for u take ur BUDDIES!!! And leave!

    October 6, 2011 at 11:55 am | Report abuse |
  14. Richard

    First Amendment freedom of speech? I didn't know that ESPN was a government agency and that firing HWj was an act of legal prosecution. I could've sworn that ESPN was a corporation, and that right-to-work-style thinking would allow them to hire or fire whomever they pleased whenever they felt it best for the business and market.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:56 am | Report abuse |
    • Frank

      Richard and the People of the United States of America,
      Everyone is missing a critical point, ESPN has a license to Broadcast by who.?
      The FCC thats who,and what is the FCC? It has control over eveything that is Broadcast in this country because it is a GOVERNMENT AGENCY.So my point stands that freedom of speech over the broadcast media is controlled by the GOVERNMENT.

      October 6, 2011 at 2:06 pm | Report abuse |
  15. Bemused

    Awwwww, I didn't know that gorillas had freedom of speech too. What a dope, what a neanderthal! See, I have freedom of speech too, I can call him all kinds of things (within reason). What this free speecher does not recognize is that when he's paid by ESPN he has to toe the line of his employer. Besides, his comments were so utterly idiotic and uncomprehensive about politics, it's sad. He'd rather see a political bloodbath than people of different parties trying to work something out.
    And don't give me the BS about hard working people: You used your million dollar platform to show how truely stupid you are. Go kiss uncle ted, you two must be related.

    October 6, 2011 at 11:58 am | Report abuse |
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