Posted on: October 17, 2011 12:10 pm

Jon Gruden signs 5-year extension for MNF gig

Posted by Will Brinson

Since replacing Tony Kornheiser on Monday Night Football, Jon Gruden's settled in pretty nicely as a broadcaster. But the perpetual rumors of Gruden departing for whatever available coaching opportunities were out there, most recently with a report that the gig in Miami was his to turn down.

Those rumors will die down now, as ESPN announced on Monday that Gruden signed a five-year extension that will keep him on Monday Night Football through 2017.

"Our Monday Night Football crew is special, and to have the opportunity to continue to be a part of this team, working these big-time NFL prime time games every week on ESPN, I’m fired up," Gruden said in a release from the network.

Yes, everyone was upset that his statement didn't include "THIS GUY" -- a reference to Gruden's heavy usage of a certain descriptor for players.

And there are probably some people who are upset that Gruden's on the telecast for the next six years; his style of announcing seems to grate on various viewers, but he has developed a nice rapport with Ron Jaworski and Mike Tirico in the booth. That was lacking -- mightily -- from the rendition that featured Kornheiser, for a number of reasons.

But while Gruden might be full of enthusiasm, he also knows what he's talking about, which is refreshing change of pace from some of the folks ESPN's trotted out for color commentary over the past few years.

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Posted on: October 6, 2011 1:10 pm
Edited on: October 6, 2011 2:07 pm

Who will replace Hank Williams on Monday Night?

Posted by Will Brinson

Who will replace Hank Williams Jr. on Monday Night Football now that he's gotten the boot by ESPN? That is the eternal question that will probably be answered in the next day or so (or not), and asking these questions is why the bosses pay me the big bucks*.

Or something. Anyway, let's roll through some possible suggestions for new MNF opening acts.

10. Tripping Icarus

What? You haven't heard of them? DO YOU EVEN LIKE FOOTBALL? Of course you do. I was just kidding. But if you love football, you should know this band, since they're fronted by Minnesota Vikings punter -- and friend of the podcast! -- Chris Kluwe.

Having this happen is a longer shot than Kluwe's team winning the Super Bowl (sorry, Chris), but it would still be awesome. Plus, they have a tune that's got a killer intro in Misery though the lyrics might need to be tweaked. And the title. Unless the league keeps scheduling the Dolphins for prime time anyway. Then it's pretty apt.

Oh, and they have at least one "celebrity endorser."

9. Black Eyed Peas
I dunno, it just seems like any time there's a convergence of "we need a band" and "what bands are still cool" and "we need a band quickly," executives at broadcasting companies are totally willing to jump all over Fergie and Co.

They have that stupid altered-lyric version of "Let's Get It Started," and we're all already numb to it thanks to the NBA playoffs a few years ago. Don't forget that they also owe football fans for their miserable performance at the Super Bowl in Dallas, so maybe they'll do it on the cheap.

8. Hank Williams, III

Perhaps Hank's a bit ... close to the situation, being Hank Jr.'s son and all, but he's already come out and said that his dad is kind of a goofball for "mixing political views and music." That means he'll be a guy who won't cause a stir with any Godwin's Law screwups.

Does anyone care about his music? Well, I can't speak to that, because I don't know what he sings. But I do know there's like a 75 percent-plus chance that he could call his dad up, swing by the studio with a fifth of Jack Daniels, and "talk him into" signing over the rights for "Are you ready for some football?"

He could probably score a sweet camo Alabama hat out of it too, and then ESPN could keep carrying on like 1989 never became irrelevant.

7. The Who
Are they too old to play the MNF theme? Perhaps, yes. But they did recently play the Super Bowl and while they were fairly panned, they did an acoustic jam session at their press conference that pretty much made my life.

But Roger Daltry's been cruising around doing spots on Sirius, and I'm sure they have some remastered album coming out soon. They always do.

And have you seen the Monday Night Football schedule for the rest of the year? "Who Are You?" would be a perfect theme.

6. Dixie Chicks
Hahaha. OK, OK, so this a horrible idea. (Mrs. Brinson made me do it; she knows how much I love ... er, she loves "Sin Wagon.")

But we should at least try and provide equal political party representation for people who ruin their careers based on stupid statements about the President, right?

5. Phoenix

Yes, I know they're French. Don't be a jerk about it. They're still sick nasty (and were once the theme of "The [Blank] Jones," which gives them tons of street cred with the kids!) and really energetic.

Plus, if Roger Goodell has his way, every single NFL game will be played in a foreign country by the time ESPN's MNF contract expires, so we might as well export the music too.

4. Dale Earnhardt Jr. Jr.
The best band you don't know about -- the Juniors -- don't really fit the profile of a band that would play Monday Night Football, mainly because they're "not mainstream enough" for a suit to agree to, and because they don't necessarily have the "same sound that your dad likes." Or whatever Carles would say.

But (and full disclosure -- they are also friends of the podcast!) I think they represent one pretty cool idea that MNF could take with the musical direction. Why not have a local, albeit famous-enough, band perform a song that's related to the city where the game is being played? Like "We Almost Lost Detroit" -- embedded below -- which is not only fantastic but totally true about MNF and the Lions, who haven't been the home team on a Monday since 2001.

Travel around the country and have different intros with an up-and-coming band from that area. They'd do it for free and it would be way better than listening to one lame act sing every week for the next 20 years.

3. Jack White
The White Stripes are broken up and I think he's abandoned the Raconteurs to go do his own label thing, but would anyone be more perfect for this gig than Jack White?

The dude rocks hard, he's got respect from people in every single genre of music, and he dresses weird but is cool enough to pull it off. Mrs. Brinson and I were playing Rock Band the other night (she's a killer bassist) and she heard the Raconteurs for the first time and loved them right off the bat.

"Ball and a Biscuit" is all up on a commercials these days, and I'd listen to that song for the next 30 years in a row non-stop if it meant nothing ridiculous like ESPN hiring Jimmy Buffett. But just to prove that White can provide something more commercially viable for the cranky football-watching adults in your family, here's "Many Shades of Black."

2. Drive-by-Truckers
This would be freaking AWESOME. (Or perhaps you prefer awesome-sauce?) And, if the WWL wants to keep moving in a similar direction as Bocephus, these guys rock out hard in a country-but-not-quite-alt-country way.

"Three Dimes Down" is one of my favorite songs ever and while it's not necessarily the song that would fit for the intro, it a) shows they've got the sound and b) isn't totally obscene like "This F*****g Job."

Come to think of it, forget they wrote that, ESPN.

1. Wilco

Hey, dad, do you know what you like these days? And no, I'm not speaking to my dad. I'm speaking to you, Mr. 30-plus-year-old, key-demographic, football-watching, how-did-I-already-become a father of two who's reading this post.

You like Wilco don't you? Yeah, that's what I thought. In fact, you probably love Wilco enough -- for the record, as do I  -- that you didn't even think their decision to do the background tunes for the recent Volkswagon campaign constituted "selling out."

You probably embrace their "Dad Rock" style and, well, that's cool. We are the generation of fathers and soon-to-be fathers who will be watching MNF to escape family time over the next eight years and more. The least ESPN could do is cater to us.

Bonus: Wilco already has a song named "Monday" that's fast-paced and fun to listen to!

*The small bucks, natch
Posted on: October 6, 2011 10:30 am
Edited on: October 6, 2011 2:20 pm

ESPN fires Hank Williams Jr. from MNF

Posted by Will Brinson

Hank Williams Jr. was all up in the news this week. That's understandable given his comments involving Barack Obama and a certain German dictator to Fox and Friends on Monday.

Those comments resulted in ESPN pulling Hank's intro from the most recent Monday Night Football game in Tampa Bay and now resulted in ESPN firing the man known as Bocephus from the job he's held for the past two decades.

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

Hank Jr. originally issued an "apology" for his comments that came off in an insincere way. Bocephus followed that up with a more apologetic statement, but ESPN clearly felt that the comments were too controversial to make it worth including Williams in the production for MNF.

Also somewhat controversial? Whether or not Williams was fired -- the country singer said on his website Thursday that he was fired.
Bocephus Bounced

"After reading hundreds of e-mails, I have made MY decision," Hank wrote. "By pulling my opening Oct 3rd, You (ESPN) stepped on the Toes of The First AmendmentFreedom of Speech, so therefore Me, My Song, and All My Rowdy Friends are OUT OF HERE.  It’s been a great run."

ESPN and Hank were, per his interview, on a one-year contract, so it's not as if a separation would be that difficult, provided Bocephus doesn't feel the need to sue for a violation of his civil rights. It's kind of hard to imagine, though, how anyone -- as Stephen Colbert said on The Colbert Report recently -- will be able to get ready for football on Mondays without Hank.

Given that ESPN recently invested a ridiculous $1.8 billion into the rights for MNF, and given that nearly every single band currently producing music would be interested in producing the theme song, you have to imagine they'll figure out a way to move on without Bocephus and his rowdy friends.

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Posted on: October 5, 2011 9:44 am

Daily Show, Colbert take on Hank Jr's comments

Posted by Will Brinson

As you certainly know by now, Hank Williams, Jr., (aka "Bocephus") made some comments on a recent Fox and Friends interview in which he invoked Godwin's Law.

As a result, ESPN yanked his introduction for Monday Night Football, and there's no telling if he'll be back or not.

As a result of that both The Daily Show and The Colbert Report had a little "Bocephus segment" on Tuesday night.

Jon Stewart's reaction is a little surprising, if only because he's more offended by the celebrity-interviewing hypocrisy of having Williams on, and because he doesn't seem ... surprised.

The Daily Show with Jon Stewart
Get More: Daily Show Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,The Daily Show on Facebook

Poor Stephen Colbert though. He simply wasn't even prepared for football on Monday without Hank to inform him that it was about to begin.

The Colbert Report
Get More: Colbert Report Full Episodes,Political Humor & Satire Blog,Video Archive

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 6:13 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 9:05 pm

ESPN pulls Hank Williams Jr MNF introduction

Posted by Will Brinson

On Monday morning, Hank Williams Jr., who notoriously sings the Monday Night Football introduction, went on Fox and Friends and made some pretty regrettable comments that used the words "Obama" and "Hitler."

As a result, ESPN decided to pull Williams intro for MNF when Indy heads to Tampa Bay this evening.

“While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told CBSSports.com.  "We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast."

ESPN has not decided whether or not the removal of Williams intro -- he's might be more famous for yelling "Are you ready for some football?" than anything else -- will return and are "evaluating" the decision for future telecasts.

UPDATED 9:00 p.m. ET: Williams has released a statement. It reads:

Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood. My analogy was extreme -- but it was to make a point. I was simply trying to explain how stupid it seemed to me -- how ludicrous that pairing was. They’re polar opposites and it made no sense. They don’t see eye-to-eye and never will. I have always respected the office of the President.”

Every time the media brings up the tea party it’s painted as racist and extremists -- but there’s never a backlash -- no outrage to those comparisons… Working class people are hurting -- and it doesn’t seem like anybody cares. When both sides are high-fiving it on the ninth hole when everybody else is without a job -- it makes a whole lot of us angry. Something has to change. The policies have to change.”

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Posted on: October 3, 2011 3:57 pm
Edited on: October 3, 2011 6:21 pm

Hank Williams, Jr., compares Obama to Hitler

Posted by Will Brinson

UPDATE (5:50 p.m. ET): We reached out to ESPN for comment and we were informed they are pulling the Hank Williams, Jr., intro from Monday Night Football's telecast for Monday's game between the Buccaneers and the Colts.

“While Hank Williams, Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize that he is closely linked to our company through the open to Monday Night Football," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz told CBSSports.com.  "We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result we have decided to pull the open from tonight’s telecast."

The latest sports-related figure to invoke Godwin's Law -- the act of comparing someone in modern culture to legendary very bad person Adolph Hitler -- picked a pretty bad subject for comparison, as Hank Williams, Jr., voice of Monday Night Football on ESPN, decided to hop on Fox and Friends and compare Barack Obama to the German dictator.

But, no, really, this happened. Williams decided to point out that it was foolish of House Majority Leader John Boehner to play golf with Barack Obama.

"Come on, come on, that would be like Hitler playing golf with [Israeli prime minister Benjamin] Netanyahu," he said. "In the shape this country is in?"

Wait! Don't pick your jaw up off the floor just yet. He wasn't done.

Hosts Brian Kilmeade and Gretchen Carlson were stunned (and later apologized for the remarks), but Kilmeade managed to point out that he doesn't "really understand that analogy." So Williams clarified it.

"I'm glad you don't brother, because a lot of people do," Williams said. "They're the enemy... Obama! And Biden! Are you kidding? The Three Stooges."

No, Williams did not list a third stooge, but maybe he was just referring to himself?

It was a gaffe of pretty epic proportions and unfortunately for Hank -- and ESPN -- they managed to shift the conversation directly to his 20th year with the WWL as the guy who screams the theme song at the beginning of the show.

"A one-year deal that keeps on going sure is fun," Williams said of his tenure with MNF.

Of course, that only works if it actually keeps on going.

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Posted on: September 8, 2011 10:37 am

ESPN gets 8-year, $1.8B extension for 'MNF'

Posted by Will Brinson

Are you ready for some Hank Willlliiiiiiiams? Because as long as the country singer can make it through another eight years, you'll probably be hearing his voice over the intro for 'Monday Night Football,' as ESPN inked a deal with the NFL to hold onto their primetime football programming for another eight years.

That's according to Daniel Kaplan and John Ourand of the Sports Business Journal, who report that ABC/ESPN paid $1.8 billion for the next eight years of 'MNF' despite not securing a spot in the Super Bowl rotation and only the possibility of landing a Wild Card playoff game in the future.

The price of the deal is, according to SBJ, a 63 percent increase over the current deal. So what'd ESPN get? Well, "many more highlight reels" of NFL footage for starters -- ESPN will use that footage to create two new football-related television programs and expand the time frame for airing current shows.

Oddly, 'NFL Matchup' is not included in this list and presumably will keep airing at 0-dark-thirty, even though it remains the best show on the entire network.

Additionally, ESPN gets "a wide swath of digital rights" that is expected to give them mobile/tablet/online streaming capabilities, which is a big win given the way the NFL guards its digital properties.

Yes, the deal is huge for both ESPN -- they keep the only football on Mondays for the next eight years. But it's a tremendous win for the NFL and just further proof of why a lockout during the season would have been patently ridiculous.

If this is an indication of how the revenue pie will grow in coming years, a failure to get a deal done would have been embarrassing.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: October 21, 2010 5:53 pm

Givin 'Em the Business: Stupid, Soft Brains

Posted by Will Brinson

Givin Em the Business (yes we were on hiatus, sorry, we're back now) recognizes all the people that annoyed us from the week that was in football. Feel free to provide nominations either in the comments or by yelling at us on Twitter (@CBSSportsNFL) .

Rank Who Why


We like to blame aggressive players or equipment or rules, but you know who's really to blame? The stupid soft brain tissue that sits in all of our skulls. If it was tough, like a real man, then it wouldn't be so easily bruised and hurt and injured and we could just run around all acting like Bill Romanowski and slamming our heads into walls and punching ourselves. Dumb brain.


Brett Favre
Sure, he didn't release the alleged photos of his "Crocs" and he's doing his part to avoid answering questions (which, actually, is kind of irritating), but the fact that Favre has somehow managed to INCREASE the level of attention paid to him since the last time he stormed into Lambeau Field to stab Packers fans in the back with a Viking spear is just flat out amazing. Impressive, really, if it wasn't No. 4.


James Harrison
All due respect to a guy who's a great defender, but come on, bruh, no one's buying this retirement chatter. You get paid $51 million to play freaking football. If that means that a) you need to realize how lucky you are or b) just take it down a notch and not lead with your helmet on every single play, well, so be it -- there ain't anyone else out there willing to give you this kind of cheddar for this kind of work. 


Brandon Meriweather
Hey, Brandon, remember that scene in Good Will Hunting when Robin Williams ends up screaming, "IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT! IT'S NOT YOUR FAULT, WILL!" to Matt Damon? Well, pretend like you're Matt Damon and this is Opposite Day, because THIS IS ALL YOUR FAULT! Alright, that might be a stretch, but if you hadn't gone headbutthunting at Todd Heap, there's a good chance we wouldn't have spent all week demanding that the NFL have some responsibility towards big hits. So thanks for nothing.


NFL Security
It's hard to define exactly how the NFL's investigation into Brett Favre's alleged sending of racy pictures should really progress. But it's not hard to determine that, because Jenn Sterger is the person who allegedly received pictures of Favre's "stuff" and A.J. Daulerio of Deadspin is the person who published pictures of the alleged "stuff," they should be interviewed. Certainly not before the pictures were released, but certainly before Day 25* of the Favre Croc Shot Watch. (*approximate)


Celebration Penalties
It'd be one thing if the NFL had solved the world's problems and completely eliminated the health issues surrounding football and then decided to attack the clear world-killing evils of excessive touchdown celebrations. But the league declared (three years ago) that players would be punished for big hits and instead decided to focus on tagging people for using cell phones in the end zone. To wit: last week, Miles Austin and Roy Williams got tagged for 15 more penalty yards because they used leapfrogs and Texas handsigns than Brandon Meriweather for acting like the Texas mascot on Todd Heap's head.


Jack Del Rio/ESPN
Now, this is about as alleged as anything that involves Brett Favre, but -- allegedly -- ESPN network people asked Jeff Fisher and Jack Del Rio to call timeouts during the Titans blowout of the Jaguars on Monday night. That would be swell and all except that a) it's so corporately creepy and b) it allowed Chris Johnson to break a 35-yard TD run that caused tons of fantasy owners to lose their week. HOW DARE YOU THINK THAT MILLIONS IN ADVERTISING MONEY IS WORTH MORE THAN ME WINNING A WEEK OF FAKE FOOTBALL, ESPN?


JaMarcus Russell
Even though his interview was a great get for Inside the NFL, it's still disappointing to see a guy like Russell be anything other than 100 percent humble in the face of what amounts to possibly the most disappointing career in NFL history. Not to mention his refusal to play anywhere other than the NFL robbed us all from millions of snarky "UFL weigh-in" jokes.


Trade Deadline
Not that anyone got too worked up about the whole deadline business -- after all, only Albert Haynesworth, Vincent Jackson and maybe Willis McGahee were candidates to get dealt -- but there needs to be something in place to make it spicier. The MLB and NBA deadlines are two of the most exciting days in their respective sports and, frankly, look at how much more popular they are than the NBA. But, no, no, seriously, can't we like give picks to people who make crazy trades at the deadline or something? We already had the most insane in-season trading year ever in 2010 and we could've used a little more action, if only to stop talking about Favre's shoes.


Vincent Jackson
Good to see you back, buddy! After all, you only totally hosed your teammates, your front office and anyone who drafted you in fantasy football. But, no, no with Malcom Floyd and Legedu Naanee getting hurt, you're probably not too excited about your bargaining position, right? Ugh. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com