Is the NFL responsible for Papa John’s decline in business?

Screenshot from ESPN's YouTube video: Stephen A. Smith has no problem with Papa John's CEO's statement on NFL protests | First Take | ESPN

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As another Sunday in the fall arrives, the NFL will go through another week of protests during the national anthem. While the anthem protests have been a public relations headache for a long time now, the NFL has continued on being the sports juggernaut it has been for years. That may be endangered now as the protests have started to affect the NFL’s sponsorships. Papa John’s founder and CEO, John Schnatter, recently criticized the leadership of the NFL for failing to resolve the anthem protests a long time ago. Papa John’s has announced that they are reconsidering their sponsorship after a horrible third quarter for the company. Papa John’s stock prices also fell 11 percent recently. Papa John’s cites the NFL’s falling ratings as a principal reason for the decline in business for their company, and they will evaluate how things go the rest of the season before making a decision on their continued sponsorship of the NFL. The question is, though: Is the NFL the reason for Papa John’s decline in business?

Those who feel the NFL is responsible for Papa John’s decline in business argue that many fans are boycotting the NFL and its sponsors while the protests continue. Many people have a toxic view of the NFL because of the players, and they will have nothing to do with any company associated with the league. Also many customers agree with John Schnatter’s point that the NFL has handled the protests horribly and they applaud him for calling out the league. Many people who are boycotting the league have said that if Papa John’s ended its sponsorship of the league, they would start buying from Papa John’s again.

People who feel the NFL is not the reason Papa John’s is seeing a decline in business feel it is Papa John’s itself that is the problem. They argue that the food is not as good as it used to be. Also, they cite Papa John’s service as another reason for the decline in business. Plus, John Schnatter has taken some political positions in the past, like his opposition to Obamacare and his threat to raise prices if it became law, as a major reason people had already walked away from the company. Finally, they see Papa John’s blaming the NFL as trying to point the finger at someone else when Papa John’s itself is to blame.

The NFL and Papa John’s have had a lot of success and made a lot of money together during their partnership. The NFL has been the dominant sport in this country for a long time now, and being the official pizza of the NFL has made Papa John’s a household name. If either the NFL or Papa John’s wanted to end that relationship, they both have that right. Will it end at the end of this NFL season? We shall see.

ESPN’s First Take discussing the CEO of Papa John’s statement regarding the NFL:

The Issue

Is the NFL’s handling of the anthem protests and declining ratings the reason for Papa John’s decline in business? Is the boycott of the NFL and its sponsors hurting Papa John’s? Or, is Papa John’s just trying to blame someone else for their own business problems?

Yes, the NFL is the cause of Papa John’s business decline

Those who feel the NFL is responsible for Papa John’s problems say that the boycott of the NFL and its sponsors is having a big effect. If the NFL would just end these protests then things would get back to normal.

No, the NFL is not the problem for Papa John’s

People who feel the NFL is not responsible for Papa John’s problems say that it is the quality and service of Papa John’s food and restaurants that is the cause of their declining business.

Do you think the NFL and the anthem protests are the cause of Papa John’s decline in business?

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