ESPN bringing Hank Williams Jr. back to Monday Night Football

NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 22: Hank Williams Jr. chats with extras during a break from taping the opening of the 40th Anniversary of Monday Night Football at Centennial Park in the Parthenon on June 22, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

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NASHVILLE, TN - JUNE 22: Hank Williams Jr. chats with extras during a break from taping the opening of the 40th Anniversary of Monday Night Football at Centennial Park in the Parthenon on June 22, 2009 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Rick Diamond/Getty Images)

Ready or not, ESPN is bringing Hank Williams Jr. back to Monday Night Football.

The Tennesseean reported the reunion Monday morning.

"I think it's a return to our past in that it's such an iconic song associated with football," said Stephanie Druley, ESPN's senior vice president of events and studio production.

"It was the original," Druley told The USA TODAY NETWORK-Tennessee. "It belongs to Monday Night Football. It really is about returning to what fans know. It's a Monday night party and that's what we're all hoping to get back to."

An alternate version of Williams’ “All My Rowdy Friends Are Coming Over Tonight” served as the introductory song for MNF from 1989 until ESPN parted ways with Williams in 2011 after he made controversial remarks about then-President Barrack Obama.

The timing of the move is hard to ignore.

MNF is coming off its lowest-rated season ever (per SportsMediaWatch), and ESPN recently laid off many well-known staffers as it struggles to cope with the financial hit from a significant loss of subscribers.

Overpaying for rights fees and cord-cutting consumers are likely the largest factors in ESPN’s struggles, but an increasing injection of (generally liberal) politics into the network’s discourse has also been cited by some (often conservative) critics.

Replacing most of its news and analysis with mindless debate probably hasn't helped either.

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Politics being any factor has been met with vehement denials from network and other (generally liberal) commentators, but the truth likely lies somewhere in between.

Last season, the the combination of a spate of bad games and increased attention on the tumultuous Presidential election also no doubt played a role in the declining ratings of prime-time NFL games.

The return of Williams could help the network’s image with conservatives, and it serves to dip into the seemingly hot market for 1990s nostalgia that’s been building over the past few years.

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