For the second time, ESPN has removed Hank Williams Jr.'s "All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night" from its Monday Night Football opening. According to Sports Business Journal Daily, the decision is not due to Williams' past controversial statements. Instead, the network says "All My Rowdy Friends," which debuted on the weekly sports program in 1989, won't fit the current NFL season, in which games will be played in stadiums with limited or no fan capacity due to COVID-19.
"All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night," a reworked version of Williams' 1984 hit from the album Major Moves, will be replaced by the Little Richard song "Rip It Up." The song will feature Little Richard's vocals over a new instrumental track by Virginia-based band Butcher Brown. Little Richard, a founding father of rock 'n' roll, passed away earlier this year.
Monday Night Football kicks off on Sept. 14, featuring the Pittsburgh Steelers vs. New York Giants and the Tennessee Titans vs. Denver Broncos.
ESPN previously removed Williams from its Monday Night Football opening in 2011, after the singer compared president Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler. During an appearance on Fox & Friends, Williams Jr. made the comment in reference to the former president playing golf with former House Speaker John Boehner, saying the round of golf was like "Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin) Netanyahu." The song was reinstated in 2017 with a new version featuring Williams Jr., Florida Georgia Line and Jason Derulo.
"Bocephus has been eyeing this one for awhile. It's a bright spot during a difficult year," Williams Jr. said of his Country Music Hall of Fame induction in a statement.
Williams Jr.'s daughter Katherine was killed in a one-car crash in Henry County, Tennessee in June of 2020.