The concern over social justice took a sharp left turn off the street of reason and directly into a pizza parlor this week when Papa John's founder John Schnatter claimed on an earnings call that NFL players kneeling for the national anthem.because of
"The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players' and owners' satisfaction," Schnatter said. "NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders."
At least one NFL owner agrees with him. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones -- who, in full disclosure, owns over 100 Papa John's franchises -- appeared on G-Bag Nation on 105.3 the Fan, a CBS Sports Radio station, and called Schnatter "one of the great Americans," also saying, "When he speaks, I listen."
"John Schnatter is one of the great Americans," Jones said. "He's the story of America. He started off in his dad's bar just doing pizza with a little oven or microwave, and he's built that thing into one of the great businesses.
"Papa John's was named by all of the people that look at the NFL, Papa John's was named as the product most associated with the NFL, and it was named that a year ago by a survey of our viewers. So he is quite an American story. He was not cavalier about showing he's got data. ... So when he speaks, I listen."
There is probably a way to say what Jones said without really piling on the platitudes. Papa John is a wealthy businessman who made a bunch of money selling pizza. He worked hard and is an American success story.
"One of the great Americans?" It feels like a stretch. Let's not go throwing him on Mt. Rushmore or anything. Maybe we can put his face on the penny or something, but lets not go overboard.
More full disclosure: Jerry once rapped in a Papa John's commercial. Good luck only watching it once.
Anyway, the Papa John's argument here is that being associated with the NFL is causing a negative connotation for consumers, who are tired of the NFL and therefore ordering less pizza from Papa John's, which is the official pizza of the NFL and has been the official pizza of the Dallas Cowboys since 2004.
There is a pretty good argument to be made that Papa John's stock was already declining before anyone started kneeling for the anthem.
Not helping Papa John's argument? Yum Brands, which owns Pizza Hut, has seen its stock rise.
There are other factors (Taco Bell!) that play into Yum's price of course. But Yum CEO Greg Creed said on an earnings call that the company isn't seeing an impact from protests on their pizza sales.
"We're not seeing any impact from any of that," Creed said.
Pizza Hut does not have the same close association to the NFL as Papa John's of course, but it is still difficult to believe that NFL players deciding to kneel for social injustice is having a major impact on the type of pizza that people are ordering.