On its official Twitter account Tuesday night, Papa John’s finally addressed founder and CEO John Schnatter’s comments to investors this month, and “sincerely” apologized “to anyone that thought they were divisive.”
“That definitely was not our intention,” the company added.
Schnatter, on a Papa John’s earnings call, blamed his company’s reduced sales and lowered profit forecast on the NFL’s failure to stop players protesting police brutality and racial injustice by taking a knee during the national anthem.
“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” Schnatter said on the call. “The NFL has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.” He added: “This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”
Here’s what Papa John’s tweeted on Tuesday:
Papa John’s has been an official NFL sponsor since 2010. The NFL’s TV ratings are indeed down, but factors such as an increase in TV news shows and the general proliferation of the game ― and not the protests themselves ― have been cited as potential causes.
The pizza company said it supported the right “to protest inequality” and “the players’ movement to create a new platform for change.”
But it added that “as Americans, we should honor our anthem” and said there was “a way to do both.” The company said it would work with the NFL and players “to find a positive way forward.”
“Open to ideas from all. Except neo-nazis,” it added.