Papa John’s CEO Says NFL Protests Are Hurting Sales

The controversy surrounding NFL players peacefully protesting is affecting not only the football league but the pizza business, well according to Papa John’s CEO, John Schnatter.

In a conference call with investors on Wednesday, Schnatter said that the NFL protests “hurt” Papa John’s shareholders. While he did not call out the NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell by name, Schnatter said that “poor leadership” was why the company’s stock is down 24% this year.

“This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago,” Schnatter said during prepared remarks at the start of the company’s quarterly earnings call with Wall Street analysts. “Like many sponsors, we are in contact with the NFL and once the issue is resolved between the players and the owners, we are optimistic that the NFL’s best years are ahead. But good or bad, leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.”

Schnatter also pointed out that while the election affected NFL ratings in 2016, this year ratings are down because of the controversy, adding that “the controversy is polarizing the customer; polarizing the country.” It is important to note, Papa John’s pulled ads from several NFL games this season due to protests.

Meanwhile, Domino’s Pizza is eating up the market share. The company’s stock is up 12% this year.