Papa John’s Apparently Thinks NFL Anthem Protests Has Hurt Pizza Sales

Papa John’s loves nothing more than selling mediocre pizza that leaves your stomach in shambles.

And it apparently is having trouble doing that, thanks to everyone’s favorite scapegoat: NFL national anthem protests.

During a conference call Wednesday, executives from the official pizza company of the NFL said the rise in player protests — and the league’s inability to deal with them — are hurting Papa John’s ability to sell pies.

“The NFL has hurt us,” Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter (you know, the guy who kissed Peyton Manning after Super Bowl 50) said, via ESPN’s Darren Rovell. “We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this. … Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership.”

The company, which reportedly has nixed a portion of its TV advertising with the NFL, expects declining sales to continue next quarter, and believes its deal with the league is the main reason why. Furthermore, the company anticipates the problem will “persist unless a solution is put in place,” according to Papa John’s president and chief operating officer Steve Ritchie.

Now, why would Papa John’s believe the NFL is so responsible for lagging sales?

Well, Ritchie reportedly said that data shows Papa John’s has been the most recognized sponsor associated with the NFL for two years running. That means there’s a direct correlation between the success of the NFL and the success of Papa John’s.

And given that NFL TV ratings continue to fall, the company reasons that fewer and fewer people are ordering Papa John’s pizza on NFL gamedays. Makes sense, right?

Well yeah, but…

Blaming lackluster TV ratings on the anthem protests is extraordinarily lazy, as the NFL really is experiencing what every company that delivers its product through TV is. In fact, when compared to its “competition,” the NFL is doing just fine.

Yet the fact remains that the ways people consume entertainment — and thus advertisements — are drastically changing. And Papa John’s, like so many other companies, simply didn’t see the iceberg that was right ahead.

Or, you know, maybe people finally realized Domino’s is better.

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Thumbnail photo via Matthew Emmons/USA TODAY Sports Images

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