Papa John's Apologizes for Blaming Poor Sales on NFL Player Protests

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"The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country". Schnatter said Goodell was hurting his company and told investors "NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders".

"Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership", he added, apparently calling out commissioner Roger Goodell. That didn't go over well with Papa J, who helped write the tweets according to the company's Twitter feed.

"We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players' movement to create a new platform for change", the company tweeted Tuesday.

Declining viewership and loss of advertising revenue were previously raised as major concerns by Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder and other National Football League owners regarding potential negative consequences of the ongoing anthem protests.

Papa John's late Tuesday made a decision to tweet a middle-finger emoji aimed at neo-Nazis who are-reportedly-co-opting the chain pizza. Open to ideas from all. The controversy kicked off after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the national anthem a year ago, inspiring other players to engage in similar forms of protest to recognize racial inequality and police brutality.

Despite the pizza chain's efforts Tuesday to address the criticism over those remarks, some social media users weren't convinced. "I don't see an apology for that".

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.

Schnatter's original comments turned his company into an emblem of the political and cultural divide in the United States, with some people advocating boycotts of Papa John's and others praising his stance.

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