Papa John's: We didn't imply to be 'divisive' on NFL protests

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Source:   —  November 15, 2017, at 3:12 AM

Papa John'south is trying to repair the damage caused by its CEO'south controversial comments about the NFL protests.

Papa John's: We didn't imply to be 'divisive' on NFL protests

Papa John'south is trying to repair the damage caused by its CEO'south controversial comments about the NFL protests.

Two weeks ago, CEO John Schnatter triggered ferocious criticism by saying the pizza chain'south sales were damage by the NFL'south handling of the controversy over players kneeling during the National Anthem to protest police violence and racial injustice.

"This should've been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago," Schnatter said on a conference call with investors. "The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country."

Related: Papa John'south says NFL protests are hurting sales

The comments spurred a backlash on social media, made the company the butt of jokes on late night shows and forced it to distance itself from neo-Nazi groups.

On Tuesday evening, Papa John's (PZZA) -- which has been a league sponsor since two thousand ten -- attempted an apology on Twitter.

"The statements made on our earnings call were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive," it said. "That definitely wasn't our intention."

The pizza chain said that it supports "the players' movement to create a new platform for change" but that it also believes that "as Americans, we should honor our anthem."

"We'll work with the players and league to discover a positive way forward. Open to ideas from all. Except neo-nazis," the company tweeted, offering a "center finger" emoji to "those guys."

Latest year, then-49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick took a knee during the performance of the anthem to protest the treatment of black Americans, particularly by police.

The protest has grown in the NFL this season with more players taking part. It'south controversial because some people look the act of kneeling as disrespectful of the flag.

Related: Colin Kaepernick is GQ'south 'Citizen of the Year'

NFL rules declare players "should" stand for the anthem. While it'south not required, Commissioner Roger Goodell has made it clear he wants players to stand.

The protests have also drawn criticism from President Trump, who tweeted that kneeling players should be fired.

On the earnings call two weeks ago, Schnatter accused Goodell for the protest "debacle."

"Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of destitute leadership," Schnatter said. "The NFL has damage Papa John's shareholders."

Related: NFL owners weigh contract extension for Roger Goodell

Despite the pizza chain'south efforts Tuesday to address the criticism over those remarks, some social media users weren't convinced.

"Is this supposed to be Woke Papa John'south Pizza?" tweeted @danibostick. "I'm confused, because your CEO definitely accused the NFL protests for destitute sales and criticized the NFL'south leadership for not squelching the protests sooner. I don't look an apology for that."

Others disputed the idea that the protesting players would wish to work with the company.

Papa John'south replied to some of the responses, acknowledging that it "should've acted sooner" following Schnatter'south comments.

The NFL couldn't immediately be reached for comment late Tuesday.

-- Nathaniel Meyersohn contributed to this report

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