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The NFL kneeling controversy just won’t go away and as the NFL’s viewership and ratings continue to drop, the NFL quickly needs to find a solution before it goes the way of the USFL or, worse, has to allow the President to purchase the Buffalo Bills in exchange for a taxpayer bailout. But regardless of how you feel about players kneeling, it’s clearly a point of concern to owners and the Lord Commissioner as the Salute to Service marketing gimmick that allows the NFL to profit off of the military approaches.
Now, I know I don’t have much of a say in whether or not a non-profit that exploits America’s respect for its brave servicemen and women for revenue should allow its players to kneel during the “Star Spangled Banner,” but it’s not a great look, especially when it’s a bunch of millionaire domestic abusers complaining about inequality. But who knows, maybe I’m wrong, and if I’m wrong, tell me I’m wrong.
A new hot take on this issue emerged within the past week as Papa John Schnatter blamed the NFL kneeling controversy for his pizza giant’s poor Q3 earnings report. In a nutshell, he blamed his company’s partnership with the NFL and the NFL’s declining popularity and ratings for people buying less Papa John’s pizza. Of course, in our beautiful capitalist system, the competition never fails to pull you down by the horse collar when you’re vulnerable.
Papa Johns’ competitors said they’ve seen no decline in sales due to the NFL protests and DiGiorno went in for the kill, roasting the hell out of the Papa in a one-sided Twitter war. Granted, DiGiorno is garbage pizza compared to Papa John’s pizza, or even Tombstone or Bagel Bites for that matter, but I’ve got to hand it to them — they’re the best pizza on Twitter.
Anyway, among the big three major pizza chains, I’d say Papa John’s pizza is the best tasting (editor’s note by Dillon: you are HIGH), but it’s getting obliterated by Dominos, whose quality has improved greatly over the past decade and also has a much more convenient ordering process. Dominos also has decent additional food options. It’s perfect if you’re looking for volume instead of quality.
Papa John’s, on the other hand, really has failed on the marketing end, as well as the fact that it sells Pepsi instead of Coke. Everyone knows Pepsi is sewer water with aspartame while Coca Cola is a complexly flavored, elite soft drink. But the NFL connection? They use Peyton Manning in their commercials, and even people who hate Tennessee football love Peyton Manning. I don’t think that’s the problem here. It’s just a pizza chain that’s been outdone by its biggest competitors.
So, the NFL has a problem and Papa John’s has a problem, so clearly the best solution is for them to work even more closely together. The ideal situation would be a Papa John’s buyout of the NFL. Papa John Schnatter is not a great marketer by any stretch of the imagination, but he knows that better ingredients make a better pizza. Papa John’s. And that’s really what the NFL needs — a better product.
College football, as I’ve said previously, is a much better product than professional football. It just is. It’s more fun to watch and being a fan is so much more fun. And its primary focus is what goes on on the field, not like the NFL where sports media is obsessed with what the players are saying and doing off the field.
Deshaun Watson, before his unfortunate injury, brought a little taste of college football-style entertainment to the pros, but now that he’s sidelined, the NFL sucks again. In short, Papa John Schnatter needs to take the NFL, smother it in sauce, cheese, and pepperoni, and dip the crusts in garlic sauce so the fans love it again. And maybe offer more free pizza to viewers with a convenient delivery system. Speaking of, the NFL could probably use a better delivery system. Like, a standalone streaming service with live games not tied to a specific wireless carrier or cable provider. Just a thought.
Unfortunately for us, Papa John’s peaked at around a $3 billion market cap, while the NFL as a whole, teams included, is worth anywhere from $45 billion to $75 billion, depending on whose numbers you are using. Maybe Papa can leverage his political donations to work something out. Worse comes to worse, the NFL buys Papa John’s and puts Papa in as the Commissioner and COO. That way, the only reason NFL players will have to kneel will be because they ate too much Papa John’s pizza. The NFL needs Commissioner Papa..