(JTA) — ESPN pulled its Monday Night Football introduction by Hank Williams Jr. after the singer compared President Obama to Hitler.
The song was pulled from the introduction to Monday night’s game between the Indianapolis Colts and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
ESPN said in a statement that it would remove the song for one game and decide what to do in the future based on an apology from Williams.
During an appearance Monday on Fox and Friends, Williams said that Obama’s golf outing with Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner was like “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu.”
The singer’s hit “All my Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Monday Night” has been the Monday Night Football introduction for the past 23 seasons.
“While Hank Williams Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football,” the network said in its statement. “We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast.”
Williams released a statement late Monday explaining that he was “misunderstood.”
“Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood,” the statement said in part. My analogy was extreme — but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me — how ludicrous that pairing was. They’re polar opposites and it made no sense. They don’t see eye to eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the president.”
The Anti-Defamation League on Tuesday praised ESPN for its decision to pull the Williams intro.
“ESPN responded appropriately and did the right thing in pulling the Hank Williams Jr. football song from the airwaves,” said Abraham Foxman, ADL’s national director and a Holocaust survivor. “The Holocaust was a singular event in human history, and it is an insult to the memory of the millions who died as a result of Hitler’s plan of mass extermination to compare the Nazi dictator to any American president.”
Responding to the Williams statement, Foxman said the singer “should know better.”
“He owes an apology to Holocaust survivors, their families, and the brave American soldiers who gave of themselves to fight the Nazi menace during World War II,” Foxman said.