By Michael Hurley, CBS Boston
BOSTON (CBS) — If you could go back in time to, say, 2009, and look at a headline like this, you’d imagine that somebody pulled some random proper nouns out of a hat and pasted them together to form a sentence: “Papa John blames Roger Goodell for pizza company’s ‘divorce’ from the NFL.”
Yet somehow, in this crazy, mixed-up world, this is where we’ve ended up. You can’t help but laugh.
That headline comes from USA Today’s “For The Win” blog, and it details the parting words of John Schnatter — aka “Papa John” the pizza man — after he resigned as chairman of the national pizza chain. Somehow, in the complex web of politics, protest and pizza, Papa John’s has been at the center of much debate over the past several months. In February, Schnatter publicly complained about how the NFL player protests were somehow hurting his pizza business. Given that Schnatter had strong ties with Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who was fighting the league himself at the time, some speculated that that relationship was non-coincidental to that matter. Which is kind of insane thing for people to even be speculating about! Why not just … think about other things?!
(Speaking of Jerry Jones, this commercial once happened. Schnatter probably should have resigned after that one, if we’re being honest here. To a lesser extent, this one too. While we’re on the subject, Jerry Jones sure does love appearing in bad Papa John’s commercials. Feel like it’s a problem.)
Nevertheless, the people can’t get enough Papa John. I mean, Peyton Manning doesn’t go around smooching just anybody after winning the Super Bowl. Peyton Manning knows quality, and that’s why Papa John’s cheek was one of the few targets Manning actually hit in Super Bowl 50 before riding off to the sunset.
And even though he’s been shamed this week for using a racial slur during a sensitivity training conference call (read those words again!), he’s made the rounds in the media, and we’re still running his quotes, and the people are still reading them and reacting to them. This is Papa John we’re talking about after all.
And Schnatter didn’t want to fade away quietly. Instead, he wanted to send a direct shot right across the bow of NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Papa John The Pizza Man, who always makes the rounds at Radio Row at the Super Bowl every year like the big-time celeb that he is, wanted to slap the hand which formerly fed him. Or the hand which he formerly fed? Not sure how the relationship worked, exactly.
“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. 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.”
Now, granted, there are probably some inconsistencies in some of those statements. Papa Pizza Man might not totally be in the right here. But the big takeaway from this matter is simple: after resigning in shame for using a racial slur during a company sensitivity training session, during a week where the whole country was essentially pointing and laughing at him and during a week when his name was being stripped off stadiums and schools, Papa John elected to take some time to dunk on Roger Goodell, whose biggest offense was apparently just being Roger Goodell.
No matter who you are, you can’t help but chuckle at the absurdity of that.