ESPN is bringing back Hank Williams Jr. for its Monday Night Football opening, according to Cindy Watts of USA Today. The move comes six years after Williams was dropped from the broadcast following comments he made about John Boehner golfing with Barack Obama.
Stephanie Druley, ESPN’s vice president of events and studio production, says she expects there will be some backlash, but ESPN is comfortable with it.
“It was the right time,” Druley said. “We discussed it internally and it was just the right time to bring him back.”
Williams recorded a new version of “All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night," complete with the well-known opening, “Are you ready for some football?”
ESPN jettisoned Williams after he said some controversial things on Fox News’ Fox & Friends about Boehner golfing with Obama.
"It would be like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli leader) Benjamin Netanyahu,” Williams said.
He went on to call Obama and then-Vice President Joe Biden “the enemy.”
Six years later, the political landscape is different than it was when ESPN moved on from Williams. While players face criticism for peaceful protests against oppression, and Colin Kaepernick is still unemployed because of it, ESPN is welcoming back a man who compared the former president of the United States to Adolf Hitler on television.
It’s not the only questionable thing Williams has said since being let go by ESPN for his dumb remarks.
"We've got a Muslim for a president who hates cowboys, hates cowgirls, hates fishing, hates farming, loves gays, and we hate him!" Williams said while headlining the Stockyards Music Festival in 2012, according to Thor Christensen of the Dallas Morning News.
Williams was surprisingly noncommittal about the contentious 2016 election.
"'What about the election?' they say,” Williams said via Rolling Stone Country. “I say, 'I don't give a shit about the election, I've got a smash CD coming out.’”
Williams’ return also comes on the heels of mass layoffs at ESPN, including longtime NFL commentators and reporters like Trent Dilfer, John Clayton, and Ed Werder.