Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter Is Blaming Protesting NFL Players On The Company’s Declining Sales

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Just when it feels like we’ve heard from every possible side on the controversy of NFL players peacefully protesting by taking a knee during the national anthem, we apparently had yet to hear from the fast food pizza chain restaurant faction. Specifically, Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter, who claimed on a conference call with investors Wednesday, that the NFL has “hurt” Papa John’s shareholders.

Although he didn’t mention NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell by name, Schnatter insinuated that “poor leadership” was what has affected his chain’s stock being down a not insignificant 24 percent this year.

“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” Schnatter said during prepared remarks at the start of the company’s quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts. “Like many sponsors, we are in contact with the NFL and once the issue is resolved between the players and the owners, we are optimistic that the NFL’s best years are ahead. But good or bad, leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.”

Schnatter went on to say that while the election affected NFL ratings in 2016, this year ratings are down because of the controversy, adding that “the controversy is polarizing the customer; polarizing the country.” It’s worth noting that Papa John’s pulled ads from many NFL games this season over the protests.

Not surprisingly, people are calling bullcrap on Schnatter’s remarks, and not just because Domino’s Pizza, which recently underwent a rebrand, is up 12 percent this year. As such, many took to Twitter to speculate on the real reason for Papa John’s hurting sales.