Papa John's Sorry For Anthem Comments

San Francisco quarterback Colin Kaepernick left and safety Eric Reid kneel during the national anthem before an NFL football game against the Dallas Cowboys in Santa Clara Calif. Reid says his Christian faith

The apology comes two weeks after Papa John'sfounder and CEO John Schnatter blamed the National Football League for the company's drop in sales because of the ongoing player protests. "The controversy is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country". We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem.

"The NFL has hurt us", Schnatter said.

"Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership", Schnatter said. They didn't, however, completely end their advertising relationship with the NFL.

Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling during the anthem a year ago to protest police violence against minorities.

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Although the controversy surrounding the anthem protests is quickly singled out as a major reason behind the NFL's declining viewership - ratings were down 5% overall through Week 7 compared to the same point previous year - network TV viewership is down overall. During a meeting of NFL owners earlier in October, Houston Texans owner Bob McNair said "we can't have the inmates running the prison", referring to player demonstrations during the national anthem.

Papa John's added that it is "open to ideas from all". The pizza chainalso gave neo-Nazis the middle finger in their apology after white supremacist site The Daily Stormer declared Papa John'sthe "official pizza of the alt-right".

Schnatter's comments were widely reported, and Papa John's was trending on Twitter for several hours afterwards.

"Sorry racial injustice couldn't be ended as easily as adding an extra topping and a side of ranch", ESPN reporter Jemele Hill wrote on Twitter on November 1. The Business Insider retail reporter Kate Taylor noted last week that 18 other NFL sponsors refused to say whether they were reevaluating their NFL sponsorship deals or experiencing a negative sales impact attributed to the protests among NFL players.

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