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#pounditFriday, February 23, 2024

Papa John says 2 NFL owners wanted him to take out Roger Goodell

Roger Goodell at a press conference

Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announces the final pick of the 2021 NFL Draft for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter was critical of the NFL over the way the league handled the national anthem controversy several years ago. Many people believed Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones was behind the remarks, and a recent revelation from Schnatter lends credence to that theory.

In a recent interview with Jason Whitlock, Schnatter said Jones and Washington owner Daniel Snyder tried to get him to force Roger Goodell out as NFL commissioner in 2017. Jones was upset at the time about the national anthem controversy and Ezekiel Elliott’s suspension. Papa John’s was one of the NFL’s biggest sponsors at the time. The two ended their sponsorship deal in 2018.

Schnatter told Whitlock that Jones and Snyder “hate Goodell.” He also said Goodell is a “coward” and “incompetent” but that he was not in the business of doing dirty work for NFL team owners.

“They called and said, ‘You need to take this guy out. You’re the number one sponsor of the league, as far as notoriety and acceptance and association. Everybody loves you, they love Peyton [Manning, a Papa John’s franchisee and sponsor]. We hate Goodell,'” Schnatter recalled, via Mike Florio of Pro Football Talk.

“I said, ‘No. This is not my job to fire your Commissioner. He works for you. I just sell pizzas.’ I have a family of small businesses that, you know, probably 35 percent of our spend’s NFL, it’s down 20 percent. This behavior of not addressing the issue to the owners’ and players’ satisfaction is causing me and my franchisees a lot of problem. And this is going on now for two seasons. … I had a free shot from two owners to go after Goodell personally. I didn’t go after him in a vicious, venomous way. I just said, ‘Hey, grow up, be a leader, and fix the problem so my small business owners stop taking it on the chin.’”

Schnatter also claimed Snyder said Goodell is a “drunk, and yet we pay him $50 million a year.”

The timeline Schnatter provided indicates that Jones and Snyder wanted Schnatter to do more than just publicly pressure the NFL to address the national anthem issue. Papa John’s pulled some advertising at the time and said in a statement that “leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership.” The company then ended its sponsorship with the NFL but maintained endorsement deals with individual teams.

Schnatter later found himself embroiled in a different controversy. He stepped down as CEO of Papa John’s in early 2018. Things eventually cooled down between Jones and the NFL. It sounds like the situation could have gotten a lot uglier than it did.


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