Sports | November 7, 2017 10:01 am

Papa John’s NFL Accusations Reveal Limits of League’s Power

Pizza company has been the official sponsor of the NFL since 2010.

Papa John's NFL Accusations Reveal Drawbacks of the League's Power
SEATTLE, WA - OCTOBER 29: Members of the Houston Texans stand and kneel before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 29, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. During a meeting of NFL owners earlier in October, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said "we can't have the inmates running the prison", referring to player demonstrations during the national anthem. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

On November 1, John Schnatter, founder of Papa John’s Pizza, said that the league’s failure to “resol[ve] the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction… has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” reports Sports Illustrated

Stinter, whose company has been the official pizza sponsor of the NFL since 2010, claims that the “ongoing situation” and the “issue” should have been resolved 18 months ago. But his comments may have had the opposite effect than he hoped, since Papa John’s shares fell more than eight percent after the statement.

Schnatter did not directly say what the “issue” or “ongoing situation” was, but it can be presumed that he meant the player protests over over racism and police-involved shooting during the national anthem. Schnatter, who donated to President Trump along with other Republicans, seems to blame, without naming him, Roger Goodell, instead of those kneeling, reports Sports Illustrated. Schnatter said, “Good or bad, leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.”

A recent poll showed that NFL favorability among registered voters had dropped from 64 percent to 46 percent over four years, reports Sports Illustrated. Papa John’s COO Steve Ritchie mentioned “significant negative consumer sentiment of our association with the league” during the earnings call. Also of note:  the favorability of the league is falling across party lines and ethnicities.

For years, the NFL has faced no consequences for locking out players or referees, and even news about domestic violence seemed to have little impact. But now, the NFL may finally be arriving at a point where its power is being held in check, Sports Illustrated writes.