Two weeks after frozen pizza retailer DiGiorno chided Papa John’s on Twitter for the chain’s self-reported sales slump amidst the NFL’s national anthem protest controversy, Papa John’s has taken to the same social media platform to apologize for CEO John Schnatter’s “divisive” remarks.
The Louisville-based company made a three-part public statement via Twitter on Nov. 14, further confirming their support for NFL players' right to protest.
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“The statements made on our earnings call were describing the factors that impact our business and we sincerely apologize to anyone that thought they were divisive. That definitely was not our intention,” the pizza chain tweeted from their official account.
“We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players’ movement to create a new platform for change. We also believe together, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both.”
“We will work with the players and league to find a positive way forward. Open to ideas from all. Except neo-nazis — [middle finger emoji] those guys,” they added.
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Nevertheless, the company's request for forgiveness may be coming too late for some offended consumers.
“You don’t need to 'work with' them. They want to protest. They don’t need your permission or to compromise to benefit you,” Hollywood screenwriter Rachel Kiley replied to the thread, in a post that has since gained almost 3,500 likes and 250 retweets.
The pizza chain, however, continued to serve up clarification on their statement.
“We hear you. We just want to be clear that we support the players’ movement to create a new platform for change. We want to help if we can,” Papa John’s replied.
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Meanwhile, others wondered what role Schnatter, the company’s founder and public face, had in the apology.
"Curious: Did John write the part that said '[middle finger emoji] those guys'?" one Twitter user wondered.
“He helped write the post — yes,” Papa John’s replied.
The controversy surrounding Papa John's and the NFL protests began on Nov. 1, when Schnatter told investors that the NFL’s “poor leadership” through the “take a knee” controversy has lost the chain $70 million in earnings. Schnatter added that the tension between the racially charged protests and the football league “is polarizing the customer, polarizing the country,” Forbes reported.