As you have probably heard by now, ESPN has canned Hank Williams Jr. and his classic song “Are You Ready For Some Football” from its Monday Night Football broadcasts.
Despite the fact that no one really cares (or should care) what a musician thinks about anything other than the songs he is playing, ESPN decided that Williams’ controversial comments about Barack Obama and Hitler (I still don’t exactly what they were) were just too much for a Worldwide Leader to bear.
The truth of the matter is that ever since Monday Night Football went to ESPN, big Hank and his song have lost almost all of their relevancy.
It used to be that MNF started with a Hank-ignited bang right at 8:00 on ABC, followed by a few minutes of succinct stage-setting, and then BAM!..the game started. Now that Monday Night Football is on ESPN, the pregame show starts pretty much right after Mike & Mike in Morning ends and goes all the way up until kickoff. The theme song occurs sometime in between Chris Berman trotting out a tired, decades-old nickname and Jon Gruden’s first “This guy!” of the evening, but frankly I can’t even remember the last time I saw it.
Despite this reality, a lot of time and keyboard strokes have been wasted discussing the opinions of a musician that nobody (should) care about who sings a song that a steadily decreasing number of people care about or even watch. But it’s been force-fed to us like it is the most exigent of sports stories since it involves ESPN. Well, I think I speak for all of my rowdy friends here at MSF when I say: it’s not. So enough’s enough.
Of course, now the ultimate irony has occurred: my agitation at being force-fed this lame-o Hank/ESPN story has led me to force-feed it to you. Bah! The cycle continues! If this were The Neverending Story, The Nothing would be closing in on and we’d all be doomed. (Luckily it’s just Midwest Sports Fans, my name is neither Bastien nor Atreyu, and no flying, talking dogs are anywhere in sight; so we’re safe. Whew.)
To make amends to being a part of the problem and further talking about this stupid story, I’m going to spend the rest of the post making sure that you at least get some value and entertainment for your troubles. And I’m going to do this by being solution-oriented.
I’ve decided to expound on some thoughts I tweeted out earlier today and describe a number of options ESPN could choose to replace Hank Williams Jr. for the MNF theme song.
ESPN won’t choose any of these ideas of course – because they are unique, interesting, and, dare I say, good – but I guarantee that all of them will be better than the result of the inevitable: ESPN ultimately accepting Satan’s suggestion of having Nickelback (with guest vocalist Scott Stapp) re-do the opening song, with DJ Steve Porter auto-tuning it with spliced-in clips of Frank Caliendo.
My apologies for putting that frightening thought into everyone’s head.
Without further ado, here are my ideas, listed in reverse order of how I’d personally rank them.
4. The QuarterbackStreet Boys
Other than doing a hip-hop MNF opening, can you think of any genre of music that is more of the antithesis to Hank Williams Jr. than boy band bubblegum pop? I can’t. And ESPN may not realize it yet, but they’re sitting on an NSync-like musical goldmine right in their own booth.
I give you, The QuarterbackStreet Boys: Ron, Jon, Mikey T, and Ronny J.
Now, obviously there are a few issues that would need to be ironed out:
- ESPN would have to figure out the logistics of having Old Ron Jaworski and Young Ron Jaworski in the same musical group at the same time. Could be a bit tricky.
- There is no way Jon Gruden would would play second-fiddle in this foursome. If you think he’d allow himself to be the JC Chasez to Mike Tirico’s Justin Timberlake, you’re kidding yourself; but there is Mikey T holding the football front and center next to a clearly perturbed Gruden.
- As for Tirico, he would have to get over himself. Despite getting top billing, just look at this face there in the promo picture. He’s not amused. But if ESPN just plays this right, and informs Tirico of all the tail he could effortlessly pull (without harassment!) being in a boy band, I’m sure he’d get on board.
Clearly having The QuarterbackStreet Boys perform a new pop version of “Are You Ready For Some Football?” would be the ideal. Not one person would dispute this. However, because of the potential issues I just pointed out, it’s probably the most unlikely to happen, hence why it’s listed first.
3. Weird Al Yankovic
Credit for the Weird Al suggestion goes to Travis Miller at Hammer and Rails, who even started a Twitter campaign to make this happen. I could definitely see this being entertaining. Weird Al is, of course, well known for making some of the greatest parody songs of all time. With classics like “Eat It” and “Like a Surgeon” to his credit, surely he could come up with something clever for Monday Night Football.
This one is so obviously outstanding it needs no further explanation. Moving on.
2. “This Is Monday Night Football”
Imagine something with me for a moment:
A 30-second intro with the titles “This Is Monday Night Football” where we are taken behind the scenes at ESPN as the final mad-dash preparations are being made for the MNF broadcast. We see shots of producers, interns running up and down the halls, just general chaos; and maybe even an athlete or two bashing in a computer for no good reason.
Then, out of nowhere, like a beacon of hope and guidance in the midst of the pre-show maelstrom, Charley Steiner appears with a tie wrapped around his head. Holding a lamp, he stares into the camera and emphatically says, “Follow me! Follow me to…FOOTBALL!”
And then BAM…the two helmets collide and we are taken to the booth where The QuarterbackStreet Boys do a little diddy and then preview the game. It’s perfect, right? (I suppose I probably shouldn’t mix and match these ideas together, seeing as how none of them will be chosen individually, but what hell.)
By the way, if the scene described here sounds familiar, it should. The best “This Is ESPN” commercial ever:
But each of the three ideas above pales in comparison to this one…
1. The Lonely Island
In fact, as far as I’m concerned ESPN can forget about each of the other three ideas in this post if they adopt this one. And unlike the QuarterbackStreet Boys, I’m not at all kidding when I propose it.
ESPN should seriously do this.
As I mentioned above, the MNF intro song is essentially irrelevant anymore, so removing Hank Williams Jr. really doesn’t make that big of a deal at all in the grand scheme of things. I saw a tweet pass through my feed earlier today that something to the effect of, “No one will choose to not tune in to watch MNF because the Hank Williams Jr. song isn’t featured anymore.” And that’s correct.
But this opening does give ESPN a chance to do something unique and clever that might get people to tune in to MNF who might not otherwise tune in, or at least to get people who would already be tuning in to tune in earlier. Even if it achieves neither of those objectives, it at least gives ESPN a chance to entertain people more than listening to the same song week after week ever did.
Which is why the WWL should choose the always entertaining Lonely Island to do the intro song. Think of the possibilities if they just spoof the songs they’ve already created:
It could start this week with a new version of “Threw It On The Ground” for the Bears-Lions matchup on Monday night. Seeing as how Ndamukong Suh will likely be throwing Jay Cutler on the ground all night, and Cutler (54.2% completion rate this year) will be throwing it on the ground instead of to his receivers, this would work out perfectly.
Here is the original song for the seven of you who haven’t already laughed hysterically at it.
Another easy one that is coming up soon would be “Vick in a Box” for the November 7th game between the Bears and Eagles, a spoof of the classic “Dick in a Box”.
And if anyone doesn’t like that idea for the Bears-Eagles game, another option would be “I Just Got Sacked”, a parody of “I Just Had Sex” (featuring Akon). Any game featuring Jay Cutler, Michael Vick, and the sieve-like O-lines of the Bears and Eagles is going to feature a lot of sacks. So this one would work out very well.
“Captain Matt Cassel” (still featuring Michael Bolton) would work well for the November 21st game between the Chiefs and Patriots, a spoof of “Jack Sparrow” (featuring Michael Bolton).
The Week 10 Monday nighter features the moribund Vikings against the spectacular Packers. This was once an epic game – as recently as last year – but it could feature a winless team against an undefeated team this time around. So it seems like the perfect time to pile on the Vikings and lampoon one of the most infamous incidents in franchise history.
When you listen the following Lonely Island song, I think you’ll know what incident I’m referring to…
Yes, “I’m On a Love Boat” would be quite entertaining.
Moving on now, if ESPN just wants a general song rather than a new one each week, how about just making the lyrics to “Jizz In My Pants” more football-appropriate and showing a few clips of Gruden and Jaws watching film of Tony Romo’s Week 3 performance against the Redskins.
Alternatively, if ESPN wants to stay away from the references to jizz – a reasonable decision considering their affiliation with Disney – they could always change it to “Jacquizz In My Pants” for the Week 16 game between the Falcons and Saints and rewrite the song to be about how diminutive Falcons RB Jacquizz Rodgers literally would fit in someone’s pants.
I could go on and on doing this for every Lonely Island song, but you get the idea. I mean, do I even need to explain the multitudes of parody ideas, just from the title alone, of the song that put Lonely Island on the pop culture map? I didn’t think so.
And then there’s this one…
(Thanks to Drew for tweeting that out after I’d already published this. How in the world could I forget that one?)
The ball is now in your court ESPN. What’s it going to be?
Nickelback with guest vocals by Scott Stapp auto-tuned by DJ Steve Porter and featuring clips of Frank Caliendo?
Or one of the four sublime choices above?
Don’t let us down. We’re still ready for some football, but it’d be nice to have something to look forward to again before it starts.