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Papa John's ending NFL partnership amid marketing shakeup

| Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2018, 8:09 p.m.

Papa John's is ending its partnership with the NFL amid a marketing overhaul under its new CEO, months after the pizza chain's former chief executive criticized the league for its handling of player protests, according to Bloomberg News.

But the company based in Louisville, is not divorcing itself from the league altogether. It says instead it will focus its football marketing efforts on 22 of the league's 32 teams and its star players.

Last year, Papa John's founder John Schnatter said the league's declining ratings and handling of a controversy over its players kneeling in protest during the national anthem hurt his firm's sales.

"The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players' and owners' satisfaction," Schnatter said on a conference call. "NFL leadership has hurt Papa John's shareholders."

Schnatter stepped down as CEO on Jan. 1 but remained chairman of the board, the Chicago Tribune reported.

The pizza chain is slumping, Bloomberg reports, with a 3.9 percent decline in North American same-store sales last quarter.

Papa John's International, Inc. shares fell to $52.50 on Tuesday from a previous close of $57.27.

"We know our potential is so much greater than our results, and we are taking significant steps to reinvigorate our record of profitable growth and value creation," new CEO Steve Ritchie said in a statement.

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