Papa John's, dubbed the "official pizza of the NFL," is reportedly suffering from effects of what founder, chairman, and CEO John Schnatter says is the NFL's "poor leadership."
During a Wednesday conference call with investors, Schnatter said, "The NFL has hurt Papa John’s shareholders. The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country."
"The NFL has hurt us," he added, and placed direct blame on the national anthem player protests. "We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this. ... Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership."
Schnatter said the issue of the protests should have been taken care of more than a year ago.
At a league meeting last month, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and the NFL owners opted not to force players to stand during the national anthem.
According to CNN, Papa John stock is down 24 percent when compared to last year.
What's to come?
Papa John's President and COO Steve Ritchie discussed Schnatter's sentiments and projected that an impact on the company will continue.
He said, "We expect it to persist unless a solution is put in place."
Citing national anthem protests as a reason, Papa John's pulled many of its ads from NFL games this season. Through Week 7, NFL viewership is down 5 percent overall from the same point last year.
Schnatter said that the NFL, as a result, promised to provide the company future spots.