On a new network and with new announcers in the booth, Monday Night Football may seem a bit different when it kicks off its season Sept. 11 at 7 pm/ET, on ESPN. But one thing will sound awfully familiar: Hank Williams Jr.'s iconic opening salvo, "Are you ready for some football?!"
The night's doubleheader of Minnesota at Washington and San Diego at Oakland marks the 16th year the country legend has supplied the rousing intro, actually titled "All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming over Monday Night." In fact, Williams ("Bocephus" to his fans) is known more for the MNF theme in some circles than for his hits like "Family Tradition." A hotel bellman in Detroit once even referred to him as the "Rowdy Friend."
"[The song] was a one-year deal that turned into an American signature," says Williams, who rerecorded the theme with an all-star band made up of Little Richard, Little Steven, Charlie Daniels and Aerosmith's Joe Perry, among others.
Oddly, despite his song's popularity, Williams was only partially used by ABC for the 1993 season to some outcry. "There were a lot of letters [asking], Where's that guy with the hat and glasses?" he recalls. "I can't tell you how good that made me feel."
Fans needn't worry this year. Williams, a Steelers devotee, has already recorded game-specific lyrics for the entire MNF run and is on call should a matchup warrant fresh rhymes. "If a game has a really important significance, then we'll [rerecord] it," he says.
So, is there ever a chance we'll hear another sports anthem from Hank? "Are You Ready for Some Soccer," perhaps? "That ain't gonna happen," Williams admonishes. "The author is not going to do that."
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