Papa John’s Founder John Schnatter Rips Roger Goodell in Explosive Interview

Although it often feels like nothing can take down NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, arguably the most powerful man in professional football wasn’t always so safe. A litany of scandals in the mid-2010s had the veteran commissioner on the hot seat, one which could have reached a boiling point had John Schnatter chosen to raise the heat.

Yes, you read correctly. If the man who founded Papa John’s is to be believed, he once had a significant opportunity to help remove Goodell from his post.

Papa John’s founder John Schnatter exploded on Roger Goodell in a recent interview with Jason Whitlock

Before gambling commercials ruled an NFL broadcast, viewers were treated to seemingly nonstop Papa John’s promos. Sometimes, Schnatter would promote his pizza and parody popular movies or trends. Other ads included longtime NFL quarterback Peyton Manning, who retired in March 2016 and turned his attention to filming pizza and insurance commercials.

If only the pizza were good. Alas…

As the man in charge of the official pizza of the NFL, Schnatter had far more power and influence than one might believe. In a recent interview with Jason Whitlock, the 60-year-old revealed that Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones and Washington Commanders owner Dan Snyder approached him several years ago with a request: help them take down Goodell.

“They called me and said, ‘You need to take this guy out. You’re the No. 1 sponsor of the league as far as notoriety and acceptance and association. Everybody loves you; they love Peyton. We hate Goodell.'”

John Schnatter

According to ESPN, Snyder supported Jones in his 2017 pursuit to find a new commissioner. Several scandals, ranging from Ray Rice’s domestic abuse incident in 2014 to the legal fallout from Deflategate, had painted the NFL in an unfavorable light. Then-President Donald Trump attacked the league in the fall of 2017 as players and teams took a knee or raised a fist during the national anthem.

Although Schnatter was frustrated by the NFL’s constant turmoil, he refused to wage war against Goodell.

“I said, ‘No, this is not my job to fire your commissioner. He works for you,'” Schnatter said he told Jones and Snyder. “Remember, Goodell is a coward, and he is incompetent, and he’s just lucky.”

According to Schnatter, Snyder also privately described Goodell with a derogatory term for those who misuse alcohol.

As of publication, neither Jones nor Snyder had publicly addressed Schnatter’s comments.

Schnatter said he did try advising Goodell before their relationship went south

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (L) and Papa John's founder John Schnatter.
Papa John’s founder John Schnatter ripped NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell in a recent interview | Cliff Hawkins/Getty Images; Steven Ferdman/Getty Images

Although he had no intention of publicly or privately orchestrating Goodell’s departure, Schnatter wasn’t opposed to trying to advise the veteran commissioner.

“I had a free shot from two owners to go after Goodell,” Schnatter told Whitlock. “Personally, I didn’t go after him in a vicious, you know, venomous way. I just said, ‘Hey, grow up, be a leader and fix the problem.'”

Has Goodell fixed the league’s problems? That question is up for debate. Although the NFL persevered through the worst of the pandemic and never needed to cancel a game, the league has also spent the last two years dealing with allegations of systemic racism and flawed hiring practices. Former Miami Dolphins head coach Brian Flores launched a class-action lawsuit in February accusing the league of sham interviews for minority candidates.

And, despite mutually parting ways with Papa John’s in February 2018, the NFL has continued printing money. According to Sportico, the average NFL team was worth $3.5 billion as of September 2021, and the collective fair-market value of the league’s 32 franchises was more than $112 billion. The league’s profits are why Goodell signed a $200 million contract extension in 2017, and why he was reportedly negotiating another new deal earlier this year.

Fair or not, money always talks, and not even a pizza chain founder would have been able to change that fact.

Like Sportscasting on Facebook. Follow us on Twitter @sportscasting19.

RELATED: Jason Whitlock Demands the NFL Fire Roger Goodell and Find a New Commissioner: ‘Weak Men Are Weak Leaders’