ESPN explains decision to dump Hank


Last week, ESPN decided to part ways with Hank Williams, Jr., after his ill-fated Monday morning appearance on FOX & Friends.

This Monday, ESPN VP/Communications Mike Soltys met with SportsBusiness Daily to discuss the decision.

Nobody really noted it,” Soltys said of the comments, including a comparison of the golf outing between President Obama and House Speaker John Boehner to Hitler golfing with Israeli prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.  “Huffington Post then pulled the video several hours later.  That’s when we became aware of it.  That was when the Twitterverse became aware of it.  It just exploded from there. It’s a good example of how issues today evolve that didn’t happen in the past.”

Soltys is right.  ESPN’s Rush Limbaugh controversy simmered for two days in 2003; the lag in 2011 would be maybe two seconds.  And Hank’s notorious (and alleged) “I’m Hank Williams, Jr. bitch!” episode from 2006 largely went unnoticed in the pre-Twitter Internet.

It would have been nice to see Soltys compare and contrast Hank’s remarks to the allegation of violence against a woman in Memphis more than five years ago, but he wasn’t asked that question.  Probably because, even today, not many people know about alleged actions from Hank that were far more troubling than his goofy comments from last Monday.

63 responses to “ESPN explains decision to dump Hank

  1. Two weeks is enough Monday Night opening had something missing I played Hank on the computer before the game stated a great game bad for ESPN start.

  2. You’d think ESPN would have learned from the Limbaugh episode. Limbaugh said nothing that was racist. Williams has said nothing that was offensive to Obama or Boehner. Ratings went up when Limbaugh was on the air and down afterwards. The same thing will happen here. People are getting fed up with not only the PC garbage, but also the blatantly false spin given to make it PC incorrect.

  3. Despite technology people still twist what Rush and Hank said into something they didn’t.

  4. “And Hank’s notorious (and alleged) “I’m Hank Williams, Jr. bitch!” episode from 2006 largely went unnoticed in the pre-Twitter Internet.”

    …and Sarah Palin still gladly took his endorsement anyway.

  5. Do we care? Seriously? Last I heard it’s a free country and people are entitled to their opinions.

    I don’t care that he’s an uneducated redneck. I care that he sings (and owns the rights) to a song that I like to hear for 3 mins before a football game starts. Once he’s done, he’s done and out of my consciousness until next Monday night.

    If and when he causes someone actual harm I’ll worry about him.

    Country gets more ridiculous every day.

  6. Lou Holtz once uttered “Adolph Hitler was considered a great leader too…” as use in a frame of reference a couple years ago.
    He’s still employed at ESPN.

    No need to explain, fellas; you are who we always thought you were.

  7. I won’t comment one way or another, but I will say that people need to find another person to compare politicians they don’t like to. I’m not sure that even the most crooked person in congress deserves that comparison.

  8. so, why was the decision made again, using an analogy for describing a golf outing of two people with completely apposing views and Willaims Never said OBama was Hitler or Beohner was like I mentioned before, much ado about nothing…glad to see ESPN is getting news from that trash site, huffington post, nototrious for spreading falsehoods…..

  9. Anyone who believes in a concerted-effort media bias hasn’t seen three producers or editors try to order a pizza.

  10. Everyone is entitled to a few mistakes, but you need to use perspective. In Hank’s mind, he should not be punished for saying something because it is his first amendment rights. In ESPN’s mind, he’s a singer that may be alienating fans and needed to be stopped.

  11. ESPN dropped Hank for the same reason I don’t talk politics with my customers. You don’t have anyone speak off of center if you want to sell to everyone. It really is that simple.

  12. It’s way past due and about time someone gets rid of the real problem. Political Correctness……

    Pretty soon instead of saying someones fat. You will have to say they are “horizontally challenged”. Then they will get fired for not adding there isn’t anything wrong with being horizontally challenged…

  13. When will the people here learn: It is America, and people have every right to say what they want. However, when what you say may upset thousands of your employers customers, then your employer has every right to drop you.

    Hank should have realized “Oh, mentioning a modern US political leader while talking about Hitler is a bad idea.” It doesn’t matter that he wasn’t calling Obama Hitler nessecarily, he should have thought out the reaction many people would have. Ok, maybe people are “sensitive” when bringing up a mass murdering psychopath, but that’s reality, and Hank should have realized that.

  14. left wing or right wing who gives a damn. Media is the all powerful puppet of political propoganda. And most of us citizens make up the population of useful idiots.

    @asublimeday, can you blame anyone for feeling paranoid when it comes to the crooks and weirdos who run our country? its a dark world that is above all of our heads whether we like it or not.

  15. When I tune in to MNF, I want to hear an idiot singer sing a song that gets me pumped up for the game. I don’t care what stupid thing the idiot singer has said before. Have you ever listened to a celebrity speak? They are idiots. Listening to Barry Sanders talk about Detroit before the game last night nearly put me to sleep. Get a leggy blonde in a tight dress to sing a song like SNF does! It’s Monday Night Football, for crying out loud! It’s supposed to be an event!

  16. Comments or no comments, I’m glad to see them move on from Hank. The only way I mildy enjoyed his “are you ready for some fooootbaaaaalll” is if I’d already had one too many shots of Crown Royal. The song was stale, old, tired, pointless, and added nothing to anything around it. Kind of like Hank Williams, Jr.

  17. The Barry Sanders opening was bland. It did not get me excited about watching a football game. Hank Williams may be (okay is) an idiot but I sure wanted to see some smashmouth football when he got done.

  18. “azredbird4 says:
    Oct 11, 2011 2:19 PM
    lilflo, your man-child obama made a call to the wimps at espn…simple as that”

    Andy Katz and his dry erase NCAA bracket are very, very powerful in Bristol.

  19. One thing that is totally not talked about is the reaction of the MNF sponsors. What company wants to have it’s products associated with controversy?

  20. The new song that Old Hank just released called “Keep the Change” says it all. Old Hank could buy ESPN if he wanted and needed them like he needs a bad case of the Flu. Do people really take the time to watch Monday Night Football any longer. ESPN?, you are pulling my tit right?, they have and are a joke, Sunday Night is the Game and Old Hank is the man.

  21. It was pretty funny that Peter King called him an idiot and pointed out how Hank said that Obama and Biden were the “Three Stooges” (it’s a math thing, don’t worry!!!)!!!!

    But it’s very disgraceful when Hank allegedly choked a woman 5 years ago, but ESPN kept ripping on Tank Johnson, Pacman Jones, and nine Bengals for getting arrested!!!! The folks in Bristol are sick people!!!

  22. I don’t give a crap about Hank Jr’s or ESPN’s political views, I just want to hear the song before MNF. ESPN made a mountain out of a molehill and we all lose because of it. In trying to be politically correct and not offend anyone, ESPN’s actions should offend everyone.

  23. It’s even sadder today that ESPN doesn’t give a crap about legal troubles anymore, but more about quotes and cat-fights!!!

  24. I find it very interesting that PFT is repeatedly mentioning the story of Hank’s assault from a few years ago. Especially in light of the fact that the prosecutor did not proceed with that case because there was not sufficient evidence to take it to trial. Funny that you fail to mention that EVERY time you bring it up.

    And in full disclosure – I am a fan of Hank’s – of like 20 years ago. And even then really only the greatest hits collections.

  25. Hank’s new song rips Fox and Friends for “twistin his words around”

    Nobody twisted his words around b/c it was on tape . Those are his exact words.

    Whatever… glad to see the song go, it was old ,tired and should have been out out to pasture 15 years ago.

  26. Putting aside the “should they or shouldn’t they can Hank” debate, I happened to enjoy the Detroit montage they played alongside Barry’s script a lot more than I ever did HWJ. Including the local (I hope/assume) music.

    Knowing the hard times Detroit (the city) has been through and how long it had been since MNF was in town, it did kinda give me goosebumps.

    Didn’t miss the HWJ ditty. So sue me.

  27. I thought this was America, land of the free! Freedom of speech!!! The media kills me how they can hurt people like this. Why isn’t the media calling for impeachment of a president instead. It is sad to see Hank Jr. Go after all these years! Americans that love football just lost a piece of the Monday night football ! Figures, Goodell probably had something to do with it…. Hank is tough, now they are probably gonna use a softy to sing on Monday nights. Maybe they should use Cindy Lauper or however you spell her name. He made a mistake, look at all the players that have been convicted and are still playing. Hank did not get convicted of a crime instead he was convicted and portrayed as evil by the media. The media sucks most of the time. They cause a lot of bad, more than good……

  28. People who are STILL racist in the day and age we now live deserve to get their comeuppance. Ideally, I would say that those were the days of our fathers, but as they said in Shawshank, “This is no fairytale world.” I try my best to be the opposite of what I see, and going by what I know to be right in spite of the hate and evil I see, but every person is not like that – noticeable by many of the comments arising from this and similar posts.

    It is truly a shame. Both due to your co-workers, who do not know the man or woman that you truly are, and to the possibility of friendship that you are robbing yourself of without even realizing. Everyone who looks like you is not your friend, nor is everyone who doesn’t look like you your enemy. I realized this long before joining the military, and my life has been blessed to call friends, true friends, people of every nationality, creed, & color from all over the globe. Judging each man or woman by THEIR actions, not the actions of their relatives or forefathers.

    Stop resting on hate because you believe it is easier that way because there IS a LIE in believe. We should all be above this by now.

  29. Who cares about the pregame stuff anyway? My TV is on mute until the kickoff. Don’t need any musician, singer, ex-football player, actor or, politician to get me warmed up to football. Bring the kickoff back 5 yards, cut the pregame antics and and let me see someone get hit so hard their helmet flies off. Now that will get me pumped for a game.

  30. He invoked Hilter on international TV. You just don’t do that.

    Right or wrong isn’t the issue. Twitdom isn’t the issue.

    May as well have said the N word.

  31. ottograham says:
    Oct 11, 2011 2:49 PM
    left wing or right wing who gives a damn. Media is the all powerful puppet of political propoganda. And most of us citizens make up the population of useful idiots.

    @asublimeday, can you blame anyone for feeling paranoid when it comes to the crooks and weirdos who run our country? its a dark world that is above all of our heads whether we like it or not.

    Well said-

  32. I always thought he was a little weird…especially in the intro when he says “Let’s paint this town white!” I always thought that was a sexual reference, at least from what ive heard.

    Maybe now FOX will get in on the trend and FINALLY abandon those stupid robots…those are getting old.

  33. So now, ESPN is bowing to Twitter, pathetic. Something is way out of whack is this internet driven society of today. Every where I go, “Freind us on Facebook, follow us on Twitter” Multi-national, mega-millon dollar coperations all begging for affirmation. Pathetic.

  34. I wonder if ESP would have acted the same if Bush had been compared to Hitler….

    If it had the potential to grow into a big story and would offend half (or more) of their viewers and might cause sponsors to consider pulling their ads if they didn’t respond, of course they would.

    By the way, I think you’re supposed to follow that righteous indignation with the vehement statement that HWJ did not actually compare anyone to Hitler and was just using a harmless analogy that was taken all wrong.

  35. There will be a tear in the beer of the left wing nut jobs on this blog next year when Obamaderp is voted out of office. Thank you Jesus for hearing our prayers.

  36. dikshuttle says: Oct 11, 2011 3:55 PM

    He invoked Hilter on international TV. You just don’t do that.
    Right or wrong isn’t the issue. Twitdom isn’t the issue.
    May as well have said the N word.

    This. A thousand times this. It’s really not any more complicated than that.

    And to those who say it was just an analogy, the Hitler part wasn’t even the really bad part. The bad part was calling the president the enemy. Sure, you’re allowed to say it. You have the freedom to be as much of a stupid a-hole as you want.

  37. This again? I loved the MNF opening, but it had gone stale. I’ve enjoyed Hank’s music for years, but the guy has never played with a full deck. He’s lucky he didn’t lose the gig in ’06 like Mike said. And all you conservatives championing the cause must not have heard that he’s now telling Fox & Friends to f-off.

    The Constitution prohibits Congress from enacting laws that infringe on free speech. It doesn’t protect any of us from the consequences of offending our bosses or clients. Hank had a right to express his opinion, and ESPN had a right to react. Enough said.

  38. Quick… someone name another Hank Williams song.
    Somebody, Anybody… didnt think so.
    All you have is the MNF song, a trailer and a guitar.
    If it wasnt for Mondays nights NOBODY WOULD KNOW WHO YOU ARE.

  39. Just wait till the end of 2012 and we will really give the Liberals something to cry about. Hank jr. will be the last things on there mind. Obama is to my generation what Carter was to my parents generation, a wake up call!

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