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Papa John’s Rolls Back Criticism Of NFL Anthem Protests

Houston Texans v Seattle SeahawksMembers of the Houston Texans stand and kneel before the game against the Seattle Seahawks at CenturyLink Field on October 29, 2017 in Seattle, Washington. 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. Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images.

Papa John’s apologized Tuesday for it’s CEO’s decision to harshly criticize the NFL’s ongoing anthem protests during an earnings call earlier this month.

CEO John Schnatter claimed that his pizza company was taking a sales hit from the protests because it is an official sponsor of the NFL, going on express anger that the NFL’s leadership didn’t cut off the protests “a year-and-a-half ago,” when Colin Kaepernick first called the flag a symbol of black oppression. The company received a bevy of criticism for their statement and its stock fell by 13 percent, forcing the Tuesday apology in which they claimed it was not their intention to incite division, ABC News reported.

“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,” Papa John said in a statement.. “That definitely was not our intention.

“We believe in the right to protest inequality and support the players’ movement to create a new platform for change. We also believe, as Americans, we should honor our anthem. There is a way to do both.” (RELATED: Papa John’s Is The Only Pizza Brand Feeling Heat From NFL Anthem Protests)

The statement was a far cry from the fierce criticism offered by Schnatter on the Nov. 1 earnings call.

“The NFL has hurt us,” he said at the time. “We are disappointed the NFL and its leadership did not resolve this. Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership.”

The anthem protests have plagued the NFL with divisiveness since Kaepernick kneeled during the national anthem before  a 49ers game last year. He argued that the flag was racist, saying “I am not going to stand up to show pride in a flag for a country that oppresses black people and people of color.”

The opening games of the 2017-2018 season saw hundreds of players taking a knee in solidarity with Kaepernick.

The pizza company was sure to appease as much as possible, claiming it was “open to ideas from all” for solving the protest issue, “Except neo-nazis.”

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