The NFL is now lacking an "official pizza." Papa John's has announced that it is cutting ties with the league, ending a sponsorship deal that began in 2010, CNN reports. Steve Ritchie, the pizza chain's new CEO, says the company will now focus on deals with star players and 22 individual teams instead of a broader sponsorship deal. "While the NFL remains an important channel for us we have determined that there are better ways to reach and activate this audience," he told investors Tuesday, per CNBC. He said the NFL and Papa John's are parting ways by mutual agreement.
Amid slumping sales, stock in Papa John's is down by more than a third since last summer. It sank another 3.9% after Ritchie's announcement. In November, founder "Papa" John Schnatter claimed that NFL anthem protests were the reason for falling pizza sales and urged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to force all players to stand for the anthem. "Leadership starts at the top, and this is an example of poor leadership," he said. The company later apologized for his remarks and Schnatter resigned as CEO the following month. (Read more Papa John's stories.)