Papa John’s Ends NFL Sponsorship Deal Months After Founder’s Criticism of Protesting Players

Papa John’s will no longer be “the official pizza of the NFL,” as the pizza chain announced today that their relationship with the sports league will not continue into next season.

With the last NFL season mired in controversy, Papa John’s was ultimately caught up in the NFL national anthem protests with their former CEO John Schnatter being forced to step down after criticizing kneeling players for their negative impact on business. In a statement confirming the break-up, the companies said the following, per ESPN:

“The NFL and Papa John’s have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport.”

While Papa John’s was the NFL’s choice pizza chain since 2010, this departure makes the company the first sponsor to drop the league — with the two entities claiming the move is in both of their best interests.

The pizza chain also received heavy criticism online after the alt-right and far-right figures began endorsing Papa John’s over Schnatter’s remarks toward kneeling NFL players. The company was then cornered into condemning their new extreme supporters.

[images via screengrab]

Follow the author on Twitter (@calebecarma).

Have a tip we should know?

Filed Under:
  1. Mediaite
  2. The Mary Sue
  3. RunwayRiot
  4. Law & Crime
  5. SportsGrid
  6. AmboTV
  7. Gossip Cop