Papa John’s Founder Blasted the NFL for Anthem Protests — And Now He’s Stepping Down as CEO

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Papa John’s founder John Schnatter doesn’t have an issue speaking up when he disagrees with something.

In 2012, he made comments about Obamacare that drew criticism but received a lot of support from those who did not see eye-to-eye with the law. And when NFL players began to protest during the anthem in droves, he couldn’t stay silent.

“The NFL has hurt us. We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this. Leadership starts at the top and this a poor example of leadership,” Schnatter said, as reported by Independent Journal Review.

Schnatter’s comments were met with a flurry of backlash on social media. As a result, the company made a few of its positions clear on Twitter.

The pizza chain tweeted, in part:

The statements made on our earnings call were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive. That definitely was not our intention.

We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players’ movement to create a new platform for change. We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both.

Schnatter is now taking a less active role in the company, though.

The Wall Street Journal reported that:

Papa John’s International Inc. founder John Schnatter is stepping down as chief executive after a tumultuous few months at the pizza chain.

Mr. Schnatter will remain chairman, the Louisville, Ky.-based company said Thursday. Mr. Schnatter’s fellow directors asked him to keep running the board but there is “no time limit” on his chairmanship, a person familiar with the company said.

Steve Ritchie, who has been chief operating officer at Papa John’s since 2014, will become CEO in January.

Papa John’s is an official sponsor of the NFL. Yet, it’s unclear if Schnatter’s choice to step down is because of his view over the demonstrations during the national anthem.

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