Papa John's issues Twitter apology for 'divisive' National Football League, anthem remarks

Aubrey Yates
November 15, 2017

"The NFL has hurt Papa John's shareholders". The pizza chain said that while it believes Americans "should honor the anthem", it supports "the players' movement to create a new platform for change". Papa John's president and chief operating officer Steve Ritchie has said that research has found that Papa John's has been the most recognized sponsor associated with the NFL for two years running, which he said means the company's performance can track with that of the league. "Except neo-nazis - (middle finger emoji) those guys". Open to ideas from all.

Specifically, Schnatter took aim at the wave of anthem protests and said the NFL's failure to stop the demonstrations was hurting his company, which has been the official pizza sponsor of the National Football League since 2010.

That last sentence is in reference to a supremacist website saying the company is the official pizza of the alt-right after Schnatter made his comments.

"Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership", Schnatter said.

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In addition to allowing itself to be perceived as opposed to players' efforts to highlight racial injustice, Papa John's has been drawn into Cowboys owner Jerry Jones's feud with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and other owners.

Papa John's profits fell short of third-quarter estimates, and its stock fell to a three-month low early in November.

Papa John's replied to some of the responses, acknowledging that it "should have acted sooner" following Schnatter's comments. It said Tuesday via Twitter that Schnatter "helped write and endorsed" its statement of apology.

Papa John's statement on Twitter comes amid a sales slump for the pizza chain. "We should have followed our gut from the beginning, but followed advice not to speak up - it's time we are clear".

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