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.