ESPN is changing its tune for “Monday Night Football.”
Fans flipping on the TV to catch the 2020 debut of “Monday Night Football” will have a familiar yet unfamiliar voice to greet them on ESPN, with Hank Williams Jr. officially off ESPN’s Monday night broadcast.
The change — which ESPN says was made to reflect the lack of (or limited) fans in stands this season — came as a bit of a surprise, but it’s not the first time the network has waved goodbye to the country music singer. It’s the latest in a myriad of changes for ESPN’s Monday night offerings, which also includes a brand-new three-man booth for the 2020 season.
Here’s what you need to know about the new anthem for “Monday Night Football.”
New ‘Monday Night Football song’
For the 2020 season, ESPN has released a re-recorded rendition of Little Richard’s “Rip It Up,” which will be used as the pre-game hype song for “Monday Night Football.” The revamped version of the 1956 classic features new instrumentals and backing vocals by Butcher Brown, a Virginia-based band.
ESPN said its reasoning for the song replacement is to reflect the absence of actual rowdy fans in the stands during the NFL season.
“The new ‘Monday Night Football’ pre-kickoff hype song replaces ‘All My Rowdy Friends’ by Hank Williams Jr., as ESPN adjusted its production in reaction to no or limited fans at NFL stadiums during the COVID-19 pandemic,” ESPN’s statement reads.
The re-recording replaces Hank Williams Jr.’s “All My Rowdy Friends” — colloquially known as “Are You Ready For Some Football?” after one of the song’s dominant lyrics — which had been used by “MNF” from 1989 to 2011. Williams was reintroduced to the fold in 2017, with a remixed version of the song used from 2017 to 2019.
The six-year hiatus for the tune came after Williams Jr.’s public comments disparaging then-President Barack Obama and comparing him to Nazi Germany dictator Adolf Hitler.
The new “MNF” theme was released earlier in September. You can hear it prior to the 2020 debut of Monday night games below:
“Rip It Up” stood at No. 1 for two weeks on R&B boards after its release in 1956, with various artists including Elvis Presley, Buddy Holly and Chuck Berry also recording their versions of the song. Little Richard, a pioneer of rock-n-roll and one of the first members of the Rock-N-Roll Hall of Fame, died in May 2020.
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