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Hank Jr., ESPN part

Fri., Oct. 7, 2011

Are you ready for some football? Hank Williams Jr. isn’t anymore.

The country singer and ESPN each took credit for the decision Thursday morning to ax his classic intro to “Monday Night Football.”

The network had pulled the song from the game earlier this week after Williams made an analogy to Adolf Hitler while discussing President Barack Obama on Fox News on Monday morning.

“After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision,” Williams said in a statement to The Associated Press. “By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First Amendment Freedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE. It’s been a great run.”

But ESPN’s statement said: “We have decided to part ways with Hank Williams Jr. We appreciate his contributions over the past years. The success of Monday Night Football has always been about the games and that will continue.”

Spokesman Kirt Webster said Williams made the decision Wednesday night, while the network said it informed Williams of the move Thursday morning.

Regardless of whose call it was, one of sports’ and entertainment’s most visible partnerships is over. The song had been a “Monday Night Football” staple since 1989 and survived the game’s switch of networks from ABC to cable a few years ago.

The song is based on Williams’ hit “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight.” The lyrics were changed each week to reflect the night’s game.

For next Monday’s Bears-Lions game, ESPN will run before kickoff the preview segment that had been used at the start of the MNF telecast. The intro will be narrated by former Detroit star Barry Sanders.

“This is the format we’ll likely use for the remainder of the season,” spokesman Josh Krulewitz said.

Henne out for season

Another loss for the winless Miami Dolphins: Quarterback Chad Henne is out for the season.

Henne decided to have shoulder surgery and was placed on the injured reserve list.

The Dolphins replaced him on the roster by signing veteran quarterback Sage Rosenfels, who was released Tuesday by the New York Giants after recovering from a blood disorder that sent him to the hospital in August.

Henne separated his left shoulder when tackled on a busted play in the first quarter of Sunday’s loss at San Diego. The game might have been Henne’s last with Miami, because his contract expires after the season.

Matt Moore took over against the Chargers and will make his first start for the Dolphins in their next game Oct. 17 against the New York Jets.

Two Rams done

Receiver Danny Amendola and cornerback Bradley Fletcher will miss the rest of the season for the winless St. Louis Rams.

Fletcher tore a knee ligament in practice Wednesday and Amendola was to have surgery Thursday for the left elbow he dislocated in the season opener.

Amendola led the team with 85 receptions last season. The Rams had been hopeful he’d return after the team’s bye week, But he had a setback in his rehab and got a second medical opinion on Wednesday in Dallas.

Fletcher was hurt in a collision with wide receiver Mike Sims-Walker, who had what was believed to be a minor shoulder injury.

Thomas signs

The Jacksonville Jaguars are using up their salary cap space.

Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Mike Thomas signed a three-year, $18 million contract extension Thursday that includes $9 million guaranteed. It locks him up through the 2015 season.

Fullback Montell Owens signed a three-year extension earlier in the week that will pay him $11.275 million through 2015, with $9.275 million in new money and $4.65 million guaranteed.

The Jaguars can afford to lock up their core players because they started the season $35.4 million under the cap.

Thomas could be the latest in a short list of Jaguars who get new deals. A fourth-round draft pick in 2009, Thomas leads the team with 20 receptions for 212 yards and a touchdown. He has 134 catches for 1,485 yards and six scores in three seasons.

Tags: football, NFL

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