Former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter became the face of the anti-anthem protest movement in 2017 when he blamed the demonstrations for tanking his company’s sales. However, in a recent interview, Schnatter claims that his criticism of the league wasn’t merely to protect his business’ bottom line. In fact, it was an ill-fated and doomed coup spurned on by two longtime rivals.
During an episode of Fearless with Jason Whitlock, Schnatter claims that Washington Commanders Owner Dan Snyder and Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones encouraged him to target the league and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in an attempt to get Goodell removed.
Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones (Ian Halperin/UPI Photo)
Schnatter made headlines in November of 2017 when he blasted the league for allowing anthem protests that were tanking the league’s ratings and, by extension, hurting Papa John’s sales. At the time, Papa John’s was one of the league’s most prominent sponsors.
“NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders,” Schnatter said at the time.
Schnatter claims he made those comments at the behest of Snyder and Jones.
Washington Commanders Owner Dan Snyder (Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
“They called me and said, ‘You need to take this guy out,’ ” Schnatter told Whitlock via the New York Post. “‘You’re the No. 1 sponsor of the league, as far as notoriety and acceptance and association. Everybody loves you, they love Peyton [Manning, a Papa John’s sponsor]. We hate Goodell.’”
Schnatter claims he resisted the idea of calling Goodell out directly, instead opting to target NFL “leadership.”
“This is not my job to fire your commissioner,” Schnatter recalled to Whitlock. “He works for you.”
Still, the reference to NFL leadership was interpreted as a shot at Goodell. The commissioner’s position was solidified that same year after he signed the largest contract extension for a sports executive in history.
Schnatter eventually resigned from his leadership post at Papa John’s after controversy surrounding his use of the N-word during a company conference call.