After months of controversy and political commentary by the former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter, who stepped down on January 1, 2018, the pizza conglomerate has now lost its title as “official pizza of the NFL”. Trouble began when Schnatter, in a conference call about earnings placed blame on slumping numbers on the league’s inability to “deal” with the “kneeling problem.” Even though the protests during the anthem seem to be on a temporary hiatus, the fallout from the personal opinions of individuals is beginning to affect business relationships between the NFL and its sponsors.
CEO Steve Ritchie confirmed that the decision was reached and made mutually between the chain and the league during the company’s earnings conference call. Ritchie also said it was done with Papa John’s best interest in mind after eight years of sponsorship.
The NFL and Papa John’s have shifted from national official league sponsorship to focus on local partnerships with twenty-two league teams where their products will be served.
The company will no longer be at NFL-wide major events, such as the combine, draft, and the Super Bowl. These events will now receive a new pizza sponsor. The NFL plans to have new sponsorship by the start of the 2018 season.