NFL insiders think they’ve got a lead on who’s really behind Papa John’s takedown of Goodell

There is speculation that there was someone else behind the Papa John’s CEO slam of the NFL on Wednesday.

Charles Norfleet/FilmMagic

Some are questioning whether Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had something to do with John Schnatter’s blaming declining Papa John’s earnings on the league’s ratings slide amid players’ national anthem protests.

“Some blame Cowboys CEO Jerry Jones for putting Papa John up to” airing his grievances during Wednesday’s quarterly earnings conference call in which he shared, “The NFL has hurt us,” according to Pro Football Talk on Thursday.

The pizza connection is a longstanding one as Papa John’s has been the official pizza sponsor of the Cowboys since 2004 and Jones owns more than 100 Papa John’s franchise stores, according to Pro Football Talk.

Jones has had significant differences with commissioner Roger Goodell, with the Cowboys owner threatening to bench any player who refuses to stand during the national anthem while Goodell has failed to issue a mandate to the league about the controversial actions.

“If we are disrespecting the flag, then we won’t play. Period. We’re going to respect the flag,” Jones, a friend of President Trump’s and the first team owner to take a stand on the issue, said last month.

He appeared to follow through on his word last week as defensive end Damontre’ Moore was terminated after he made a raised fist gesture during the anthem. Moore said he meant no disrespect with his action and Dallas Cowboys coach Jason Garrett told reporters later that the decision to let Moore go had nothing to do with the hand gesture.

Jones has reportedly been trying to “derail” a contract extension for the 12th-year commissioner, according to Pro Football Talk.

“The suspicion in some league circles is that Jones, who has reason to be even more upset with Commissioner Roger Goodell now that running back Ezekiel Elliott‘s suspension is back on, instigated Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter to use Wednesday’s quarterly earnings conference call to dump on the NFL, and to call out NFL leadership for failing to solve the anthem issue before it became a full-blown problem,” Mike Florio wrote.

The matter of whether Jones was behind Schnatter’s comments on Wednesday remains a speculative one. But while the NFL will probably only take the pizza CEO’s complaints “with a grain of salt,” according to Pro Football Talk, “the league office should take seriously the fact that Jones continues to look for new and creative ways to push his agenda, which could be to push out Goodell.”

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