Jerry Jones owns 120 Papa John’s franchises. He came to former CEO John Schnatter’s defense when he ripped NFL commissioner Roger Goodell over the league’s handling of player protests during the national anthem.
So Jones can’t be happy to see the NFL end its partnership with Papa John’s. Papa John’s is no longer the official pizza of the NFL, a title it held since 2010, the company’s CEO Steve Ritchie said on a conference call Tuesday.
The company will stay involved in the NFL through its 22 team deals in local markets, but this is on a much smaller scale. It might’ve been inevitable after Schnatter ripped the NFL last season.
“We’re disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this [protest controversy],” Schnatter said. “Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership. NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”
After those controversial statements, Jones came to the defense of Schnatter. This coincided at the time Jones tried to block a contract extension for Goodell and remained furious over the league’s handling of Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension.
Jones described Schnatter as an “expert” when it came to gauging consumer and fan response.
“He's really uniquely qualified to do that because his entire -- I think he has over 5,000 stores and those stores basically send messages out to consumers and then they pick up the phone and either respond to that or not,” Jones said. “He can literally, when the message comes out, he can really count the responses all over this country. So he's quite an expert. Plus, he is one of the real American stories of what hard work, being honest, treating people right [can do].”
This just adds to the fallout Jones is facing throughout league circles. The NFL went forward with Goodell’s contract extension despite Jones’ efforts to block it, and now the league is trying to make Jones pay for the legal expenses in Elliott’s case.