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Oct. 3, 2011 at 11:00 PM   |   Comments

ESPN drops Williams over Hitler comment

NEW YORK, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- ESPN excluded its normal musical opening to "Monday Night Football" this week after Hank Williams Jr. compared President Barack Obama to Adolf Hitler.

Williams, appearing Monday on Fox News Channels' "Fox & Friends," said a so-called golf summit -- in which Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, discussed political matters during a round of golf -- "would be "like Hitler playing golf with (Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin) Netanyahu."

"They're the enemy!" Williams said. "Obama! And (Vice President Joe) Biden!"

In a statement, ESPN said its "Monday Night Football" telecast of the Indianapolis Colts-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game at Tampa would not include the customary opening segment that features Williams singing "are you ready for some football."

"While Hank Williams Jr. is not an ESPN employee, we recognize he is closely linked to our company through the opening to Monday Night Football," the statement said. "We are extremely disappointed with his comments, and as a result have decided to pull the open from tonight's telecast."

The telecast went on without the familiar opening, and without comment on the decision to exclude it.

Williams, 62, told the celebrity news Web site TMZ.com his remarks were "misunderstood."

"Some of us have strong opinions and are often misunderstood," he said. "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."

Williams has expressed interest in running for the U.S. Senate from Tennessee in 2012, USA Today reported.


NBA girds for make-or-break labor talks

NEW YORK, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Negotiators for locked-out NBA players and team owners met during a 5-hour bargaining session Monday, setting the stage for a crucial meeting Tuesday.

NBA Commissioner David Stern said after the session that Monday's meeting was meant to set the stage for possibly make-or-break talks Tuesday as a deadline to save the start of the regular season approaches, NBA.com reported.

"It would be great to be able to make some real progress tomorrow," Stern said. "Whether that's possible or not, I don't know."

He also warned that if Tuesday's meeting turned out to be a short one, "that's not good."

The commissioner said that the scheduled Nov. 1 start of the regular season could be imperiled if agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement isn't reached within the next few days.

The two sides are still far apart on key issues including the split of league revenues as well as how a possible new NBA salary cap would be structured.


More suspensions levied at Ohio State

COLUMBUS, Ohio, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Three Ohio State football players are on indefinite suspension for being overpaid for work they did, Athletic Director Gene Smith said Monday.

Wide receiver DeVier Posey, running back Daniel Herron and offensive lineman Marcus Hall will miss the Buckeyes' game against 15th-ranked Nebraska Saturday -- and may miss more action as well.

"The dollar amounts for each [player] determines the penalty that will ultimately be leveled by the NCAA," Smith said. "However, we do know that for this game they will have to sit."

Posey and Herron were among five OSU players suspended for the first five games this season following a memorabilia-selling scandal that led to the resignation of Buckeyes Coach Jim Tressel and prompted quarterback Terrelle Pryor to join the NFL rather than serve his suspension.

Offensive lineman Mike Adams and defensive end Solomon Thomas, also caught up in the scandal, are expected back on the field Saturday.

Two other players, linebacker Etienne Sabino and defensive end Melvin Fellows, also received money for work they didn't do, but Fellows is out on a medical hardship and Sabino is available for the Nebraska game because he has already been reinstated by the NCAA.

Buckeyes running back Jordan Hall and defensive backs Corey Brown and Travis Howard were suspended for the first two games this season for accepting impermissible benefits at a charity event.

Smith told reporters all the infractions were "individual decisions by individual people."

"At the end of the day, individual decisions were made that went off the reservation," Smith said. "We have to find a way to curtail those."


Report: Roethlisberger's foot not broken

PITTSBURGH, Oct. 3 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger did not suffer a broken foot in Sunday's loss to Houston, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reported.

Citing "a source with knowledge of the injury," the newspaper said tests on the signal-caller's left foot revealed no break. There could be a sprain or some other structural damage to the foot, which remained sore and swollen Monday, the source said.

More would be known after the swelling subsides.

Roethlisberger's status for next week's game against Tennessee hasn't been determined.

The quarterback injured the foot late in the fourth quarter of Sunday's 17-10 loss, in which he completed 16-of-30 passes for 206 yards and an interception.

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