The Papa John’s pizza CEO Twitter account issued an apology on Tuesday night for comments made about NFL players kneeling during the national anthem.
The chain’s CEO, John Schnatter, had blamed slow pizza sales on the national anthem protests, saying in a Nov. 1 earnings call that “NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders” and that the protests “should have been nipped in the bud a year and a half ago.”
In a tweet, Papa John’s issued a statement Tuesday saying, “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.”
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick first started kneeling during the anthem last year to protest police violence against minorities. The protest got mixed reactions, but other NFL players -- and players in other sports -- have since followed Kaepernick’s lead to protest inequality.
President Donald Trump in September suggested that NFL team owners should fire players who refuse to stand during the anthem, telling a crowd in Alabama that “that’s a total disrespect for our heritage.”