Papa John’s apologizes for “divisive” nature of NFL criticism

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It took a couple of weeks, but Papa John’s has finally delivered something other than a pizza.

On Tuesday evening, the company posted a three-part Twitter message containing an apology to anyone who interpreted recent criticism of the NFL for its anthem controversy as “divisive.” The company also expressed support for the right of individual players to protest inequality and to create a platform for change, but said that it can be done while also honoring the anthem.

During a quarterly earnings conference call on November 1, Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter blamed reduced corporate earnings on reduced NFL ratings. Which he blamed on the anthem controversy.

“Good or bad, leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership,” Schnatter said. “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”

The stance prompted The Daily Stormer to label Papa John’s the official pizza of the alt-right. Which prompted Papa John’s to kindly ask nazis not to buy its pizza. Which finally resulted in a certain emoji to be used in reference to the group.

For the same reasons that some suspect Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has an ownership interest in 120 Papa John’s stores, instigated the complaints from Schnatter, it’s fair to wonder whether the about-face comes in direct response to the displeasure that other owners have expressed regarding Jones’ decision to take a private matter public, and to cajole a sponsor to publicly disparage NFL leadership.

If so, it means that, even as Jones insists that he’s not backing down from his opposition to Roger Goodell’s new contract, Jones may be trying to undo the damage done by a scorched-earth effort that included the involvement of a purveyor of cooked dough, sauce, and cheese.

101 responses to “Papa John’s apologizes for “divisive” nature of NFL criticism

  1. IF you can’t walk the walk, don’t talk the talk. Nothing worse than wussing out because you can’t handle the pressure you brought on yourself. Didn’t care before, now I won’t buy it.
    No dough for you, pizza putz.

  2. So sick and tired of all the political and SJW bs that has infiltrated the NFL. Just play football for god’s sake.

  3. Wait one second. Middle aged, rural, low income folk aren’t the primary consumers of papa johns!? Didn’t take them long to figure out the message they were sending was much more damaging to the brand than loyalty to good ol jerry and the WH. Following jerry has never been a brilliant business move.

  4. There’s really no argument to be made that Papa Johns wasn’t a Jerry surrogate. Who on an earnings call criticizes the leadership of a business partner?

    You don’t do that unless you have assurances that it isn’t going to screw up your business plan.

  5. The nation is in fully apology mode for anything we say, think or believe what others think we meant when we didn’t mean that at all. Just took this years anti harassment web training at wok. We now have to be worried about 3rd party harassment. So if another person either sees, hears or is told by 3rd person that thinks what a person said or did was offensive. You can be brought befor HR.
    This is insanity.

  6. When will businesses learn to keep their “political divisive” opinions to themselves. How is it ever good business to piss ANYONE with money to spend off, let alone large majorities of the population. Just shut up.

  7. No one thought your comments were divisive. They were spot on. NFL leadership is a joke, starting with Goodall.

    Now show some backbone and stand by your comments.

    I was just about to start buying Papa Johns

  8. Papa John you are a stooge for Jones and you backed his clumsy play to portray the league as bereft of leadership and the cause of your flagging sales.

    Some titan if business you are; pathetic really.

    You sir, are a schmuck and a lackey. You have been exposed for the tool that you are.

  9. It’s hard to think of anything more “divisive” than being subjected to that smarmy dude’s cheesy commercials during the games. He should really have to apologize for the awful pizza he tries desperately to unload on an unsuspecting public. Talk about disrespect!

  10. More free advertising for Papa John’s! Next week he’ll publicly declare that winning teams order more Papa John’s pizza than the losing teams. Or something, anything, to stay in the headlines. Get this clown outta here.

  11. Another Company or person apologizing for telling the truth. Just when I was getting ready to try their Pizza.

  12. Nothing will ever change the fact that you have a terrible product, or the fact that you treat your employees horribly, I’d rather get a frozen pizza than give you a dime of my money.

  13. Business decision.Shut your mouth and make pizza. If we want political views we’ll ask Rush Limbaugh or Susan Sarandon.

    The leaves are falling off my tree and I blame Trump. Oh wait I planted it during the Clinton Adminstration its his fault. Oh wait I googled it and leaves just fall off of trees this time of year.
    Sorry Papa- people have gone back to Dominos or Pizza Hut or their local Avacodo gluten free pizza artesian.Get over it

  14. You see the people that are serious about inequality aren’t going away. They won’t buy yout products. The knuckle draggers aren’t the company you want to keep. Take a knee.

  15. I don’t think Jones had any thing to do with this. He will never admit he was, is, and always be wrong about the anthem and domestic violence.

  16. You mean to tell me that when you blame the market you sponsor, and then the customers, your sales drop even further? Go figure. Btw Papa, “Nazis” was short for “National Socialists” Party, and they were hard left not alt-right. The left today are in denial, but anyway Stalin and Mao each killed many millions more than even Hitler could manage. And Castro emulated them in his own small way. And they all stifled free speech, and they were all extreme left.

  17. He can apologize all he wants, but he showed his character, and now I choose not to give him any of my money.

  18. I used to have respect for John Schnatter aka Papa John, but after he just backtracked on his criticism of NFL players disrespecting our flag and our country, I have absolutely zero respect for this coward and will never purchase another pizza from Papa John’s

  19. People on both sides of the issue buy pizza. So while the Papa thought the NFL should show more leadership or whatever, I think he realized first hand that it’s not so simple to just tell the players to stop.

    I’m not a Goodell fan at all. But it doesn’t take a genius to realize that even if, say only 20% of the population feels one way on a controversial issue, that no business can afford to “side” with the other 80% and lose a fifth of their customers.

  20. This really is a win for the NFL and the 31 owners. Jerry got a sponsor involved and blamed Goodell for the drop in sales. Blamed poor leadership in the NFL. Seems to me his employees and customers had the exact opposite reaction.

  21. Ewhite1065 says:
    November 15, 2017 at 4:22 am
    Another Company or person apologizing for telling the truth. Just when I was getting ready to try their Pizza.

    —————-
    You didnt miss anything, the puzza is just not good.

    He has his freedom of speech and exercised it at work (when a CEO comments on behalf of the organization like that it counts as ‘at work’) just like the players were allowed to extend their freedom of speech. But his protesting something at work has hurt his business and so now he needs to recognize that and stop so that he doesnt hurt it further. Apologizing for doing it in the first place was actually a nice touch. The players have had the same issue and are being asked to get that same clue. Its really the same cause and effect on both sides of the coin. Anyone saying otherwise is just being one sided.

  22. I agree with everything he said. There is not another business in the world that would allow their employees to disrespect their customers while on the clock.

  23. This is funny, Should I keep boycotting because Papa is a sponser, or should I be buying because the SJWs decided are butthurt by something said?

  24. I was boycotting your pizza more due to the stance of having Peyton Manning in your commercials. Please apologize for that and move forward with Manning-less advertising and I might reconsider my stance.

  25. I stopped buying Papa Johns years ago. The sauce stinks, the toppings are minimal, and they rely on the dipping sauce to cover up their terrible crust.

  26. If you commented on the quality of his pizza then you completely missed the mark on this topic. The bottom line is that ratings are tanking and football may go away and all you dolts want to talk about is the quality of the pizza. Embarrassing from an international standpoint that political division is being created by pizza.sad really. Would the argument been better made by an auto manufacturer, soft-drink distributer or perhaps a TV network that you arent watching, presumably while stuffing your face with an apolitical pizza. Wake up folks, there are real issues and they don’t involve dough, sauce and cheese. I don’t care for Schnatter’s brand of politics, but if he is making a bold statement like he has, then I’m going at least listen.

  27. For those keeping track at home, the corrosive SJWs have now involved both a football league and a pizza company in progressive social justice issues. Literally nothing makes them happy.

  28. smithdp says:
    November 15, 2017 at 8:55 am
    Papa decided that being the official pizza of white supremacists was not going to be good for business.

    ———————
    To his credit he was appropriately horrified when that organization declared it their official pizza and was quick to denounce them and point blank ask them to not buy it because he did not want to sell to people like them. It doesnt make the pizza any better and he still has his foot in his mouth but at least he handled that one little part ok.

  29. Jones may be trying to undo the damage done by a scorched-earth effort that included the involvement [of Papa Johns]

    I sincerely doubt it. 40% of Papa Johns customers are die hard democrats. If 25% of them stop buying Papa Johns pizza, his revenue goes down 10%. That’s worth issuing a Twitter apology.

  30. This is a classic non-apology “apology” that was not only divisive, but factually inaccurate. It’s a broken record, but their pizza is mediocre at best and too expensive. More importantly, it was our president who called for a boycott of the NFL and its sponsors. If Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter wanted to make this about business, why continue to support a politician who called for a boycott of your product?

  31. Sorry, this falls back on Trump. This thing was slowly fazing out until Captain Comb-over opened his mouth again. Like everything else, he makes it worse.

  32. I’m by no means a stock market expert but if you look at Papa John’s stock, it’s been steadily declining the last few months then takes a sharp dive just about the same time he made comments on NFL protesting. Whether they are directly related or not, I don’t know, but one has to think that might be a reason for his apologies.

  33. weepingjebus says:
    November 15, 2017 at 8:44 am
    For those keeping track at home, the corrosive SJWs have now involved both a football league and a pizza company in progressive social justice issues.

    ——

    absolutely correct. both the league and the pizza company have MADE A CHOICE to side with progess.

  34. It’s not about the politics, its about the pizza, its not very good. same thing with the game. The ratings decline has very little to do with the kneeling, there is zero evidence for that. Oversaturation, competition, poor product (I have been watching for literally 35 years and never missed a Cowboys game, but the officiating, rule changes, style of play, have made it harder and harder), and way too much focus on silliness/hype. I could care less about the things so many focus on. I consider myself a true fan who cares about the Xs and Os and man to man battles that make the difference in the game, and it is obvious the focus is on fantasy football, big play highlights, hype around players who do not deserve it other than having colorful personalities (like Dez, give me AJ Green over him any day of the week, yet Dez gets so much more attention). The evidence for this is inarguable. It is what it is, the money obsessed have messed it up, perhaps broken it. The spirit of the game is diminished, and this is where we are. It will continue its decline, the next gen could care less by and large. None of these things are political in the literal sense.

  35. The only thing this guy is more out of touch with than his customers is what pizza should taste like and how to treat employees.

    Slimy owner, disgruntled employees, Papa Johns.

  36. “..Leadership starts at the top…
    Who’s decision was to throw so many critical marketing eggs in to the NFL’s basket?

    I find it hard to believe that the investors on this earnings call weren’t dumping this stock at the same instant this clown started blaming other people for his own leadership failings…
    I certainly wouldn’t invest a nickel with someone who blames others for bad results.

    It’s reminds me of when Kordell Stewart tried that ill-fated, weak excuse saying that the “better team” didn’t win the AFC championship in 2001. We all know how that story ended.
    So what you’re telling us, “Slash”, is that Pittsburgh was the better team but the Pats didn’t allow you to be the better team that day Weeeeakk

  37. Big Green Bird says:
    November 15, 2017 at 7:08 am

    He has his freedom of speech and exercised it at work (when a CEO comments on behalf of the organization like that it counts as ‘at work’) just like the players were allowed to extend their freedom of speech. But his protesting something at work has hurt his business and so now he needs to recognize that and stop so that he doesnt hurt it further. Apologizing for doing it in the first place was actually a nice touch. The players have had the same issue and are being asked to get that same clue. Its really the same cause and effect on both sides of the coin. Anyone saying otherwise is just being one sided.

    ———————-
    Lol, its funny that this one got both so since this posts didnt take either side let’s translate what we see here really….

    Thumbs up = I recognize that whats good for the goose is good for the gander, that if I criticize something being done by people that disagree with me then its equally wrong if done by people that agree with me.

    Thumbs down = Anthing done by people who disagree with me is wrong and I will condemn their behavior. But if people who agree with me behave the same way that makes it right because they agree with me and if anyone disagrees with that reasoning I will call them names so they will know they are wrong.

  38. “The NFL is ruining our sales. They need to stop protesting” The stock drops another 13%. “Just kidding guys, y’all keep on kneeling.” Papa John needs to learn that the best business owners are seen, not heard by the public.

  39. You’re only sorry because your sales have declined as a result! You know where to stick your fake apology bud!!! Mean what you stated from the beginning and own it!!!

  40. I think one of the millennials hacked into their corporate Twitter account. Hey, I can’t make a pizza for $8, can you? My favorite local pizza joint costs twice as much, if not more for the same pizza. Love that garlic butter. “Empty Stadiums, Falling Ratings, NFL”

  41. thrifty says:
    November 14, 2017 at 11:19 pm
    It’s not as divisive as trump and the NFL players have been.

    33 68 Rate This

    Why so many downvotes? This statements isn’t wrong or untrue.

  42. By and large most pizza chains (Dominos, Pizza Hut, Papa John’s Cici’s, Little Cesar’s) are garbage. I would much rather support my local pizza shop and 9 times out of 10 their pizza is better than anything you’ll get at one of the chains.

    Papa John’s may be the worst of the chains, followed closely by Pizza Hut.

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