"We have notified Mr. Mendenhall that we are ending our business relationship."
That's the statement that Champion Sports released, firing Rashard Mendenhall after the Pittsburgh Steelers running back questioned the American celebration of Osama Bin Laden's death and the events of 9/11 last May. Once Mendenhall was dropped there was no uproar, no complaining. Mendenhall raised a controversial opinion and was released from his lucrative deal without question.
The truth is Hank Williams Jr. should have been banished from Monday Night Football years ago. I'm all for nostalgia, but all Williams brings to the table is a cowboy hat, a grungy beard and a strained voice that's had a little too much Jim Beam and Coke.
It's not country music that's the problem, Faith Hill's Sunday Night Football Intro is one of the best in sports. It's the glorification of a singer who's most famous song is titled, "If the South woulda won," in a league that's nearly 60 percent African-American. I'm sure the lyrics, "If they were proven guilty then they would swing quickly,/instead of writin' books and smiling on T.V." is exactly what Michael Vick wants to think about when he turns on Monday Night Football.
So when Williams made a complete buffoon of himself Monday morning on Fox and Friends, comparing President Obama to Hitler, it was disgusting but hardly surprising. What was arguably worse than his Hitler snark, or calling Obama and Vice President Biden "the three stooges,"(nice math by the way Hank, a real Mensa scholar this guy is), was Williams calling the President of the United States "the enemy." This incident symbolizes how utterly absurd partisan politics in this country has become.
To ESPN's credit, it jumped on the situation right away, almost immediately removing Williams' intro from Monday night's broadcast. The question is whether he will be fired permanently despite a conservative backlash. The majority of the 3,000 plus comments underneath the ESPN.com article of the story defend Williams's right to free speech.
Interestingly, these same commenters offered no such explanation when Mendenhall decided to speak his mind.
In 2003 ,these same internet message board lurkers organized a fatwa against the Dixie Chicks, a far more popular country group than Williams, after they said that they were embarrassed to be from the same state as George W. Bush. Will many of the country radio stations that dropped the Dixie Chicks after their comments do the same with Williams? I'm not holding my breath.
The political rhetoric in this country is officially out of control. Comparing the sitting U.S. president to arguably the most sadistic murderer in the history of the world is lunacy. Not only should Williams not be on our TV's every Monday, he should probably be spending his days with Nurse Ratched.
So to the Monday Night Football decision-makers in Bristol: You're already off to a good start, but for the sake of our football-obsessed country, please give Hank Williams Jr. a permanent pink slip.
Follow Thomas Alter on Twitter: www.twitter.com/MrTalter