HANK WILLIAMS JR.
★ WROTE AND PERFORMED OPENING THEME OF MONDAY NIGHT
★ GRAMMY AWARD, 1989
★ CMA ENTERTAINER OF THE YEAR, 1987, 1988
★ COUNTRY/SOUTHERN ROCK SINGER AND SONGWRITER
I don’t want to be a hero; I don’t want to be a star. It just works
out that way.
—REGGIE JA CKSON,
Hall of Fame baseball player
I was one of those kids who grew early, which was great playing football because I could just slaughter everybody. For a while there, I was unblockable. One day, with my mom watching from the sidelines, the governor’s son came out of a huge pile-up with his wrist bone sticking out of his skin. My mom had a full view of this and she grabbed me after the game and said, “That’s the end of this.” So it seemed like I was done with football at fifteen. Of course, I still played, but it freaked out everybody’s parents.
READY TO GO
I approached music with the same tenacity I did playing football. I think guys like Kenny Stabler and Ben Rothlisberger are the same as most musician in terms of mind-set. We all have the endurance and know we have to play in all types of conditions, and play through fatigue. I may say that I don’t want to play in Pierre, South Dakota, tonight, or Ben could say, “I don’t feel like playing in Green Bay today,” but we both do, and we do it the best we can. It’s all mental. What I’ve learned over the years is that endurance is the key. You have to have endurance to be able to do shows for forty years and still get pumped up enough each time to be able to pull it off. It’s something you have to do in sports, too. Sometimes I can’t believe these baseball players are going at it for 162 games a year, and that’s without playoffs, being judged and cheered and booed on a daily basis. That’s a grind.
THE FACE OF MONDAY NIGHT FOOTBALL
Monday Night Football was a one-year deal that turned into an American signature. It’s allowed me to truly be a part of the sports community. I’ve come to realize how close music and sports really are. I also had a chance to become good friends with the late Derrick Thomas of the Kansas City Chiefs. He’d go on the road with me, and that’s when I really saw how similar our lives were.
HOW DOES HANK PLAY THE GAME?
You play the way you feel it from your heart. You know what’s right and what’s wrong, and if you’re not comfortable with yourself you are going to lose. Forget the words “I can’t.” What I want to hear is, “I’m going to.” When I get to a town I always try to find out if the local minor league team is playing, and if they are, I like to see if I can take a few swings in batting practice. Like ballplayers, I know how to deal with pressure. I was born Hank Williams Jr., which was like being born Frank Sinatra Jr. Everyone expects perfection. From the day I was born, everyone wanted me to be like my dad. That pressure is a lot to endure. I only started doing well when I did what I wanted, playing music I liked and writing the music I like best.
All during our interview, I had to keep reminding myself that I wasn’t talking to a professional player. Because of his no-excuses mentality and his cadre of friends (mostly pro stars, by the way), I really thought I was talking to a former NFL star. Why? Because he has the elite athlete’s mentality of doing whatever it takes to win. Hank Williams Jr. lashes out at Obama: ‘We’ve got a Muslim for a …