Papa John’s International Inc. founder John Schnatter is going after NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, saying weak handling of the league’s national-anthem controversy has hammered sales of his pizza.
“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” Schnatter, who serves as the pizza chain’s chairman and chief executive officer, said on a conference call. “NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”
The remarks follow a controversy over NFL football players protesting during the national anthem, a movement that started last season. The demonstrations have sparked calls for a boycott and raised concerns among league sponsors. But Schnatter’s comments mark the highest-profile example of an NFL partner publicly blaming the outcry for hurting business.
Papa John’s shares fell the most in eight months on Wednesday after third-quarter same-store sales missed analysts’ estimates. The Louisville, Kentucky-based company also trimmed its revenue and profit forecasts for the year.
Papa John’s has been the NFL’s official pizza sponsor since 2010.