ARLINGTON Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones sidestepped a question on whether he agreed with Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter ripping NFL leadership for how the league has handled player protests during the national anthem.
Schnatter made headlines earlier this week when he blamed commissioner Roger Goodell for affecting pizza sales in a negative way considering the partnership between the NFL and Papa John’s.
“The NFL has hurt us,” Schnatter said. “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. NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”
That’s a direct shot at Goodell who is in contract negotiations for an extension with the league.
Asked if the league needed a leadership change as Schnatter alluded to, Jones said: “The point is I wouldn't address that as much as I am just how much of an expert he [Schnatter] is in this area of 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.
“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]. I know he's frustrated.”
Are some owners equally frustrated?
“I don't want to get into that,” said Jones, who owns 120 Papa John’s franchises. “I don't want to get into that on this visit.”
Jones has reportedly been among a group of owners interested in stalling negotiations with Goodell and possibly exploring a change at the top.
Outside of the anthem controversy, Goodell has drawn the ire of Jones in how the league has handled the Ezekiel Elliott suspension.