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Did Papa John’s CEO Step Down Because He Criticized NFL “Take a Knee” Protests?

Did Papa John’s CEO Step Down Because He Criticized NFL “Take a Knee” Protests?

“will continue to focus on product quality and customer satisfaction”

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter has been in the news a few times this year, usually for issues related to the national anthem protests of the NFL. We have covered this in prior posts:

It would be easy to assume Schnatter is stepping down as a result of these scrapes with the NFL but he is remaining with the company as chairman of the board. That hasn’t stopped the media from making assumptions, however.

Note how Nick Turner of Bloomberg describes Schnatter as the “controversial” CEO of Papa John’s:

Papa John’s Controversial CEO Will Hand Reins to Lieutenant

The controversial “papa” from Papa John’s International Inc. is stepping down as chief executive officer.

Company founder John Schnatter will hand the reins to Chief Operating Officer Steve Ritchie as of Jan. 1. The 43-year-old Ritchie, who began as a Papa John’s customer-service rep making $6 an hour in 1996, has been overseeing operations for the past three years.

The move comes less than two months after Schnatter inflamed an outcry over NFL players kneeling during the national anthem. The CEO, whose company is a top sponsor of the league, said that the player protests were mishandled by NFL leadership and hurt the pizza chain’s sales. Papa John’s later apologized for the “divisive” comments.

Schnatter, 56, will remain chairman of the company, which ranks as the third-largest pizza chain. Though the executive will continue to focus on product quality and customer satisfaction, he also plans to pursue “his personal passion for entrepreneurship, leadership development and education,” Papa John’s said.

Kate Taylor of Business Insider apparently got the same memo:

Papa John’s controversial CEO steps down after facing backlash for his criticism of NFL anthem protests

The controversial founder and CEO of Papa John’s, John Schnatter, is stepping down, the company announced Thursday.

The company said its current president, Steve Ritchie, would replace him.

Schnatter sparked controversy in November when he slammed NFL leadership over players’ kneeling during the national anthem to protest racial injustice and police brutality.

Note the fact that Schnatter’s reaction to the NFL kneeling was described as controversial, but not the idea of protesting America’s national anthem by kneeling.

Progressives took full advantage of Schnatter’s comments about the NFL as proof positive that Papa John’s is a secret agent for the alt-right.

The company’s official Twitter account is used mainly for advertising promotions but sometimes has to deal with random, baseless accusations of racism from the left. See below:

Noah Kirsch of Forbes has more on the hard business numbers from Papa John’s:

Papa John’s Founder Steps Down As CEO Amid Volatile Year

This year has been turbulent for the pizza chain, whose stock has fallen over 30% since December 2016. In November it received significant flak after Schnatter declared on an earnings call that national anthem protests in the National Football League were partially to blame for slow sales at the company. His fortune subsequently fell $70 million, to $801 million, as shares plunged. Papa John’s is the NFL’s official pizza sponsor.

Prior to this year’s tumult, the business had been charting a smoother course. Its share price hit an all-time high of nearly $90 in December 2016, and in March 2017, Schnatter—who owns about a quarter of the company’s outstanding shares—earned a spot on Forbes’ World’s Billionaires list for the first time. His net worth has since fallen to an estimated $775 million.

The left will celebrate this as a scalp but rest assured, Schnatter will be just fine.


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Message sent and received for CEOs. If you’re gonna be an activist corporation, you had better agitate for leftist policies.

At first I wondered why he let himself get pressured into stepping down, but when I see he’s still worth $775 million, I get why he doesn’t need to take any of this crap. Time to go take a nice cruise around the world.

Interesting how the whole “take a knee” issue has fizzled out, and it didn’t hurt Trump at all; NFL viewership numbers and revenue, however, took a big hit.

I’ve never eaten a Papa Johns pizza. That’s not a political statement – I’ve just never found one of their stores anyplace near where I’ve lived.

    They make good pizza, I have used them for several years for their weekday specials. However, after seeing the way things are shaking out for them because of the heathens of the NFL, I think I’ll be going back to the frozen food case for comfort food.

    John’s a good guy. The NFL has been taken over by a bunch of raggedy-ass racist rogues inflicting their despicable values against an audience that does not want to know what they think.

      MarkSmith in reply to NotKennedy. | December 22, 2017 at 10:17 am

      Never thought it was that good. Uses too much sugar in their ingredients.

      Unos does the same. I use to buy Papa Johns out of convenience but not any more. I am sticking with local.

      If I was going to pick a pizza based on “the good guy” it would be Little Caesar. Michael Ilitch was a great.

      He seemed like a great guy and was a Marine.

      Domino’s Pizza founder Tom Monaghan also kicks butt on the Pro-life side of things. They too use too much sugar in their pizza, though.

        Never had Little Ceasar’s but agree on Domino’s and Monaghan.

        Nobody in my family, except me, will eat anchovies. Life is good!

        Yes Mark, Mr. Ilitch was a great guy.

        In 2004, Ilitch read an article about a soldier who had lost both of his legs in the Iraq war, and he wanted to do something.
        Doughty’s story laid the foundation for one of Ilitch’s many charitable endeavors, the Little Caesars Veterans Program. Doughty was given his franchise; those who have come after him have gotten significant franchise-fee discounts as they work to integrate back into society after their military careers have ended. That often can be a very difficult process for veterans, wounded or not.

        The following year, in 2005, Doughty traveled to Detroit to meet with Ilitch and discuss the specifics. In early 2007, Ilitch traveled to Kentucky, along with his son, Christopher, to help Doughty officially open the store. It was a life-altering moment, if not a life-saving one.

        “Doughty stood strong for our country,” Ilitch said at the time. “I was so impressed by his courage, commitment and upbeat attitude in the face of adversity that I wanted to do something. Offering him a new career path in his hometown seemed like a good transition. Doughty’s ‘can-do’ attitude will make him a strong Little Caesars franchisee.”

        Doughty said he would have “found something” to do after the Army, but he had no idea what that would’ve been. He thought he might be an Army lifer. If not, he thought about maybe law enforcement. Of course, those were ideas with the assumption he would leave the Army on his own terms.

        He didn’t. A roadside bomb assured that.

    They make very good pizza – better than that shriveled garbage at dominos.

“Did Papa John’s CEO Step Down Because He Criticized NFL “Take a Knee” Protests?”

Wrong question. Should be more like, “Was the CEO of Papa John’s forced to step down because he said something liberals didn’t like?”

Probably. They don’t care if you’re as corrupt as the day is long if you say the right things. But say the wrong thing and Watch Out!

“Note the fact that Schnatter’s reaction to the NFL kneeling was described as controversial, but not the idea of protesting America’s national anthem by kneeling.”

Good call. I’ve long said that media bias appears in 2 main forms: Omission & Commission. I have a running series on my wall called ‘Name that media bias’ in which I compare and contrast these type of reports.

Remember Dave Ratner? “…Dave showed up in a recent picture taken at the White House where President Trump was signing an executive order on health care.”

Dave was subsequently savaged on social media, received death threats, boycotts, and his business tanked.

But I guess that, too, wasn’t ‘controversial.’

The media has a big megaphone to spread their propaganda, but individual blasts soon fade – until the next ‘controversial’ hair on fire headline.

I think I’ll order a pizza…

    While I do not wish to speak for protesters, I am certain that they were not

    protesting America’s national anthem by kneeling


    The sad part is that so much of conservative rhetoric consists of putting up straw men and ‘courageously’ knocking them down and then repeating the lie over and over and over again until the fact challenged bigots come to believe the lie.

      DaveGinOly in reply to YellowSnake. | December 22, 2017 at 6:05 pm

      SnakeOil is correct. Too many people get this wrong. The protest was not about the anthem, it merely took place during the anthem.

      Arguably, after Trump spoke up, the nature of the protest changed from one of opposition to “racism in America” to virute-signaling (“I’m with Kaepernick”). That is, it became anti-Trump, rather than anti-racism, because it was joined by many who should have, and probably would have, joined the protest earlier if they had believed the “racist” house-pucky.

        YellowSnake in reply to DaveGinOly. | December 22, 2017 at 8:16 pm

        I guess you still haven’t figured out that with Trump it is always about Trump – and that most times he gets it wrong. He made it about the national anthem because he didn’t know what he was talking about and didn’t go to the trouble to learn.

        From Trump’s twitter feed:

        At least 24 players kneeling this weekend at NFL stadiums that are now having a very hard time filling up. The American public is fed up with the disrespect the NFL is paying to our Country, our Flag, and our National Anthem

        BTW, why was our money used to transport Pence, his entourage and Secret Service to to an NFL game for the sole purpose of Pence walking out because of kneeling players? Did they, at least, pay for the trip with Trump campaign dollars or Trump dollars. I think not. Did Pence not know that there would be kneeling players? I think not. Did Pence know what they were protesting? It didn’t matter to him.

Is this a prototypical example of fake news?

    YellowSnake in reply to maxmillion. | December 22, 2017 at 2:17 pm

    It is certainly not fake news that the pizza chain has seen its stock price decline about 13 percent since the remarks were made and down about 30 percent since the beginning of 2017.

    The stockholders don’t really care what the reason is.

While the NFL protests definitely contributed since Papa Johns had so visibly been part of the NFL, the MAIN problem is that basically their only selling point is their pizza.

Other chains have started to get with the program and add quite a few variety options people actually want – like partnering with Wing Street for good delivery wings.

Papa Johns wings are shitty microwave wings with some sauce slopped on the top and everything on their menu BUT pizza is an afterthought.

“Progressives took full advantage of Schnatter’s comments about the NFL as proof positive that Papa John’s is a secret agent for the alt-right.”

As they took full advantage of Trump’s (delayed) comments about the protests, turning the protests into an anti-Trump (“How dare he speak out against black Americans protesting police killings of young black men!” – not minding that the claim has been shown to be unfounded) and using his comments as “proof” American is racist. So, if you make an unfounded claim of racism and are called on it, that’s proof the original claim of racism was accurate. Funny how that works.

    YellowSnake in reply to DaveGinOly. | December 22, 2017 at 7:53 pm

    While I can’t quite follow your logic, I concur that it is funny how it works.

    I have not seen any leftist comments claiming that Papa Johns is alt-right, but I do see calls to boycott Papa Johns because of its CEO’s opposition to supplying healthcare insurance. It would have added $0.14 to the price of a pizza! On that basis I would have boycotted them. But first I would have had to patronize them.

      1) I have seen plenty of leftists align Papa Johns with the alt-right. There were memes all over Twitter.

      2) It’s not your boss’s responsibility to supply you with health insurance, auto insurance, home & contents insurance, or any other sort of insurance. Your boss should give you a paycheck, and you should spend it as you like. Grow up, put on your big boy pants, and take responsibility for your own life. You’re not a child.

IMO if those who push the opinion that the kneeling had nothing to do with the anthem are correct one might come to the conclusion then that the kneelers were not unpatriotic but were stupid as spit.

Normal people would have realized that the kneeling was doing nothing to elevate the issue they thought needed addressing – When has anyone but the SJW/BLM crowd seen it as anything but the players being thugs who over inflate their worth and significance in the big picture?

    Milhouse in reply to katiejane. | December 24, 2017 at 1:12 pm

    The kneelers are not protesting the anthem, but the country. They don’t want the country to choose a different anthem, they claim the country is at war with black people, and is massacring innocent black people, whose corpses are littering the streets like polar bear corpses are littering the Arctic coast. But we’re not allowed to question their patriotism.

“Papa John’s Controversial CEO…”

Non-controversial CEOs??? —

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