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Papa John’s Apologizes for ‘Divisive’ Comments Regarding Anthem Protests, NFL Commish

AP Jack Dempsey
AP Photo/Jack Dempsey

Only two weeks after publicly criticizing NFL leadership and saying that the anthem protests should have been “nipped the in the bud a year and a half ago,” Papa John’s apologized on Tuesday for being, “divisive.”

Using the company Twitter account, Papa John’s maintained their claim that the NFL’s business struggles have impacted their business. However, the company walked back their criticisms of the league’s handling of the anthem protests, while making it clear that the official pizza company of the NFL respects the right of the players to protest.

Papa John’s tweeted:

According to Papa John’s Spokesman Peter Collins, the company tweeted these statements because they failed to adequately convey their true sentiments two weeks ago.

Collins said, “We posted this today because it became obvious over the last week people didn’t understand our position. We should have followed our gut from the beginning, but followed advice not to speak up — it’s time we are clear.”

Papa John’s position from two weeks ago stated pretty plainly that the company was displeased. CEO John Schnatter said, “The NFL has hurt us. We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership didn’t resolve this.”

Those comments left little doubt that Papa John’s position was that the anthem protests were hurting their business, and they held Commissioner Goodell responsible for not dealing with the problem directly from the beginning. If that didn’t accurately reflect company opinion, then either the company’s opinion changed, or they have the worst public relations team in corporate America.

Papa John’s is the only major NFL sponsor to publicly come forward and criticize the league for its handling of the anthem protests. For that, the pizza company has received a lot of unwanted attention. Not only have liberals in the sports media voiced criticisms of John Schnatter and his company, but just last week a Nazi website named Papa John’s the official pizza of the alt-right.

Obviously, given that the company specifically singled Nazi’s out in the above tweet, the unwanted praise from certain circles could have had as much to do with the decision to backtrack their comments as the media’s criticisms.

Either way, Jerry Jones just lost a major ally in his war against Roger Goodell.

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