The founder of Papa John's pizza says the national anthem protests that have been prevalent in the National Football League this season is hurting business, and blames the league's leadership for the struggles.
During a quarterly conference call, Papa John's CEO John Schnatter said that the protest should have been "nipped in the bud" a year and a half ago, when former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick started kneeling during the playing of the national anthem.
Kaepernick opted out of his contract at the end of last season and has not been signed by an NFL team since, fueling speculation that he is being blackballed.
Schnatter believes the NFL's failure to stop the protest has done damage to his business.
"The NFL has hurt us," Schnatter said. "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," Schnatter added.
Papa John's is not only the NFL's official pizza company; the company also has individual deals with almost three-fourths of the league's individual teams.
The company's stock price has dipped more than 5% since the beginning of the NFL season.