In the tumultuous aftermath of a highly politicized and recently fraught relationship, pizza chain Papa Johns will no longer have a sponsorship deal with the NFL, despite having been named “the official pizza of the NFL.”
Joint statement from NFL & Papa John’s on Papa John’s giving up official pizza sponsorship. pic.twitter.com/KVAW3QNSA1
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) February 27, 2018
The divorce comes on the heels of Papa John’s founder and CEO John Schnatter stepping down after criticizing NFL players who protested police brutality by kneeling during the national anthem.
While both entities may frame the decision as mutual, the fact that Schnatter was so vocal in his support of Trump’s position during the protests undoubtedly factored into the decision.
“The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country,” Schnatter had previously said.
He added that the protests were hurting pizza sales, remarks that invited praise from white supremacists and created a PR nightmare for the NFL sponsor.
In so doing, he echoed the sentiments of Donald Trump, who called the football players, ignited by former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick, “sons of bitches,” after calling white supremacists stoking racial violence in Charlottesville “very fine people.”
Trump may frame himself as good for business, but he has proven to be nothing more than a dangerous third rail for those few companies that have opted to side with the least popular president in modern American history.