Papa John's apologized Tuesday for comments made by CEO John Schnatter, who had blamed the NFL and protesting players for the pizza chain's struggles this football season.
With controversy around the national anthem protests percolating, Papa John's CEO John Schnatter said on the November 1 call, "The NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders". "The NFL has hurt us", Schnatter said.
The pizza chain used its Twitter page Tuesday to apologize to anyone who thought talk stemming from the company's quarterly conference call almost two weeks ago was meant to be divisive.
"We posted this today because it became obvious over the last week people didn't understand our position", Papa John's spokesman Peter Collins said Tuesday.
The pizza chain said that it supports "the players' movement to create a new platform for change" but that it also believes that "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. Except neo-nazis", the company tweeted, offering a "middle finger" emoji to "those guys". "That definitely was not our intention".
Papa John's Apologizes for 'Divisive' Comments
"This should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago", Schnatter said.
Shares of Papa John's stock are down almost 12 percent since the earnings call.
The pizza company was swiftly criticized by many for pressuring the league to suppress the player protests, which began as a way to bring attention to police brutality and racial injustice in America.
Schnatter previously blamed commissioner Roger Goodell for allowing the anthem protests to continue rather than take a harsher stance against the demonstrations.
Since then, the company remained relatively quiet, saying only that they "condemn racism in all forms" and doesn't want neo-Nazis eating their pizza.
"Leadership starts at the top and this is an example of poor leadership", Schnatter said.