On Monday, after Hank Williams Jr. appeared on Fox News and compared President Obama and House Speaker John A. Boehner’s recent golf outing to “Hitler playing golf with [Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu,” ESPN pulled Williams’ classic opening theme from that night’s airing of ‘Monday Night Football.’

‘All My Rowdy Friends Are Here on Monday Night,’ which includes the catchphrase, “Are you ready for some football?,” had opened the show for nearly 20 years. At the time, the network declined to say whether the benching would be permanent or not, but now it seems it is.

In a statement on Thursday, ESPN 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.

But to hear Williams tell the story, it was he who severed ties with the network, saying on his website, “After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made my decision. By pulling my opening Oct. 3, 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.”

While ESPN had no official reaction to Williams’ statement, it did say Williams had been informed of the official decision shortly before it was made public — which, for what it’s worth, was published several minutes before the country star posted his own version of events.

Here’s the ‘Fox and Friends’ interview that started the brouhaha, and a recent version of Williams’ Emmy-winning theme song:

[The New York Times]