The pizza delivery chain noted in a series of tweets that it merely described "factors" instrumental in the earnings dip, declaring that "we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive". "That definitely was not our intention", the company tweeted Tuesday.
With controversy around the national anthem protests percolating, Papa John's CEO John Schnatter said on the November 1 call, "The NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders. This should've been nipped in the bud a year and half ago". "NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders".
Many fans on both sides of the national anthem protests debate have took to boycotting the NFL - with some saying they refuse to watch another game until Colin Kaepernick is signed, while others say they'll continue to boycott the NFL until the anthem protests end.
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The pizza company was swiftly criticized by many for pressuring the league to suppress the player protests, which began as a way to bring attention to police brutality and racial injustice in America. The company scrambled to try to distance itself from the alt-right.
If there's a "negative consumer sentiment" surrounding the Papa John's relationship with the National Football League, as Schnatter claimed a few weeks ago, it'll be interesting to see if this semi-apology helps them any. We also believe, as Americans, we should honor our anthem.
Papa John's added that it is "open to ideas from all".
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The chain then used an emoji for the middle finger, "those guys".
"Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership", Schnatter said.
In a three-tweet mea culpa, the Louisville-based company did a reversal and said it now supports players' right to protest.
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Hill also commented on Papa John's apology Tuesday, writing, "This is peak 2017".