Keeping Score

ESPN and Hank Williams Jr. Part Ways: Why a Rowdy-Free Broadcast Is the Right Move

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“Are You Ready For Some Football?” is no more.

In a move that likely surprises no one, save some Hank Williams Jr. fanatics, on Thursday ESPN announced that it was cutting ties with the country singer, whose energetic intro to Monday Night Football ran for 20 years. On Monday, Williams made the mistake of comparing President Obama to Hitler during an interview on Fox News. The song was pulled from the Oct. 3 Monday Night Football broadcast, and now that decision is permanent. “We appreciate his contributions over the past years,” ESPN said in a statement. “The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”‬‬

(MORE: ESPN Drops Hank Williams Jr’s Monday Night Football Song Over Obama Remarks)

Williams says he, and not ESPN, did the dumping. “After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision,” Williams wrote on his website. “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.”

It’s easy to side with ESPN on this one. After Williams’ inane, rambling Fox interview, he lacks credibility. And he seems to be confused about the First Amendment. Just as Williams has every right to say ridiculous things on national television, ESPN enjoys a right to pull a ridiculous singer off of national television.

Some football fans might be upset today. Monday Night Football loves to sell its storied history, and a rowdy-free broadcast may take some getting used to. However, Monday Night Football enjoyed its heyday in the 21 years before Hank Williams’ ditty ever came along. Plus, Monday Night nostalgia is pretty fruitless at this point. It’s no longer the showcase event of the NFL week — this Monday, catch Indianapolis and Tampa Bay! Curtis Painter vs. Josh Freeman! The game scores great cable ratings for ESPN, but the Sunday afternoon games on CBS and Fox, plus the Sunday night games on NBC, typically get fans the most jazzed.

And if a game doesn’t get you excited, what good are rowdy friends anyway?

MORE: Are You Ready For Some Hitler?

Sean Gregory is a staff writer at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @seanmgregory. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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