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John Schnatter: Papa John’s doesn’t want to do business with Roger Goodell

Mike Florio

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter continues to search for a good spot to dig, despite being at rock bottom. He may have found one.

In Friday’s radio interview with Terry Meiners of 840 WHAS, Schnatter shrugged at the replacement of Papa John’s with Pizza Hut as the official pizza of the NFL, and then pounced on pro football’s Commissioner.

“We are very glad to get out of the NFL relationship, because we still get to sponsor some players and we still get to sponsor some teams and we still get to be part of the community,” Schnatter said. “But we don’t want to do business with Roger Goodell, period. And I don’t want to do business with Roger Goodell, and we’ve had enough success where we get to pick who we do business with. And Roger Goodell runs the NFL, and we made a decision to get a divorce, and we did.”

Meiners, who otherwise did a very good job in the 28-minute interview, moved on to questions about baseball’s relationship with the company, missing a clear and obvious chance to get Schnatter to provide a sound bite that would have resonated much more strongly. Why don’t you want to do business with Roger Goodell? What did he say or do to cause you to come to that conclusion? What was the final straw?

Schnatter’s dough-sauce-cheese-and-feexins empire first began to crumble when Schnatter tried during an November 1 earnings call with shareholders to blame poor corporate performance on the NFL’s declined ratings and Goodell’s handling of the anthem issue. Some within the league believed that Schnatter acted at the behest of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who also owns all or part of at least 120 Papa John’s franchises.

At a time when teams like the Falcons (temporarily, at least) and Seahawks (permanently) have ended their partnerships with Papa John’s, the effort by Schnatter — who remains a major shareholder in the company he founded — to target Goodell personally could result in some calls being made from 345 Park Avenue to other owners of other teams in an effort to get all franchises to sever ties with Papa John’s, and to replace Schnatter’s company with Pizza Hut or Domino’s or anything but Papa John’s.