ESPN is attempting to turn over an entirely new leaf on Monday Night Football in 2020.
In addition to a new booth that will include Steve Levy, Brian Griese and Louis Riddick, Monday Night Football will have a new theme song this year. According to John Ourand of Sports Business Daily, ESPN has decided to replace Hank Williams Jr.'s "All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night" with Little Richard's "Rip It Up."
Though the reason offered by Ourand for the switch in song is that ESPN believes that Wlliams Jr.'s song would "not resonate for games that will be contested in mainly empty stadiums," one can't help but wonder whether that's an excuse for a decision made for other reasons.
Among other off-color comments he's made in the past, Williams Jr. compared President Obama to Adolf Hitler in 2011. ESPN ditched Williams Jr.'s song at that time, but brought back an updated version of it in 2017. With the NFL having fully embraced the movement for racial equality, perhaps it was no longer seen as appropriate to use Williams Jr. as an opener to one of the sport's primetime games.
For what it's worth, Ourland says that ESPN plans to use Little Richard's vocals, with an updated instrumental. Perhaps that will change the tone of the song, but the original version of "Rip It Up" isn't exactly a tame song made to prepare you for a stadium without fans:
ESPN will open the 2020 season with their annual Week 1 Monday Night Football doubleheader. The first game, which will begin at 7:15 p.m. ET, will feature a matchup between the New York Giants and Pittsburgh Steelers. At 10:10 p.m. ET, the Tennessee Titans will host the Denver Broncos.