In booting pizza chain, Minnesota Twins send a message

To their credit, the Minnesota Twins and some other Major League Baseball teams sent an important message when they closed down concession stands selling Papa John’s pizza last Thursday: Racists are not welcome here.

Last week, Schnatter resigned as CEO of his pizza chain after he used a racist slur — the “N word” — during a conference call.

He still owns $700 million worth of Papa John’s stock, so he’ll be fine.

Nine Major League Baseball teams — including the Twins — want nothing more to do with the guy. And baseball has suspended its promotion in which fans of local teams get a discount on pizzas on days after their team wins.

In a radio interview, Schnatter says his use of the “N word” was taken out of context.

That caused Deadspin to tee him up.

Placed prominently in the PR playbook for crisis management is the good old standby My Comments Were Taken Out Of Context. In extremely rare cases, this move is deployed because a person’s comments were in fact taken out of context.

Most of the time it means I do not think of myself as a jerk, and would prefer to not be thought of as a jerk by the public. It’s useful not because anyone believes it, but because you can’t acknowledge having said something dumb without offering some explanation, and I didn’t mean it the way it was received beats the hell out of yes, I was racist, but only for those ten seconds of my entire life.

Absolutely nowhere in this PR playbook will you find I, A White Person, Used The N-Word In Conversation Not Because I Am Racist, But Specifically Because I Am Not Racist! But here we are:

“Believe it or not, Terry, the agency was promoting that vocabulary, and that [word]. And I made it real clear, listen, we’re not gonna go there, we’re not gonna talk about this. And they pushed me and it upset me, and I just said ‘listen, other people have used that word. I don’t, and will not use that word and people at Papa John’s don’t use that.’ And that was the comment. But they actually wanted to get into that vocabulary, and I said absolutely not.


The point is, you can’t use that vocabulary, you can’t use that word, and we will not, and I’m not going to, and I have not.”

Just to be perfectly clear, he is saying that he, John Schnatter, used the n-word, aloud, in conversation, to make the point that he, John Schnatter, would never condone the use of the n-word, aloud, in conversation. And it was the people who complained about his use of the n-word, aloud, in conversation, who were the actual racists.

In its nightly welcome to fans, the Twins announce that “all are welcome at Target Field.” There are obvious exceptions.

(disclaimer: I am paid by the Minnesota Twins as an usher at Target Field)

  • It is those moments when people feel comfortable enough to really speak their minds that this sort of thing happens. Everyone knows how the speaker feels about whatever it was, no matter how many apologies and attempts to backpedal are made.

    • Al

      Yup. Not really a term you just whoopsie let slip.

  • Patrick

    If racists truly aren’t welcome at Target Field then why is the statue of Calvin Griffith still there?

    • AL287

      After doing a quick internet search on Calvin Griffith, I agree with you.

      If we are going to remove historical statues because they were slave owners and fought on the wrong side of the Civil War, then Calvin Griffith’s statue should be removed for his comments in Waseca, Minnesota at the Lion’s Club in 1978.

      • Angry Jonny

        One step at a time.

      • ec99

        No real surprise. Griffith was coming from what was probably the most segregated city in the country.

        • Jim in RF

          And he choose here because he was told there were only 30,000 blacks.

  • Jim in RF

    An important part of the original story is that the conference call was in May, but everything was hushed up until last week. He’s pissed because people found out.

  • Jeff C.

    Great photo, Bob.

    • JamieHX

      Yeah. Very nice. The lighting is very strange. It almost looks like a painting or illustration instead of a photo.

      • The storm had just moved through (another one was right behind it) and the sunlight lasted for less than a minute and was, obviously, positioned very narrowly on the buildings.

  • Guest

    John Schnatter, used the n-word, aloud, in conversation, to make the point that he, John Schnatter, would never condone the use of the n-word, aloud, in conversation

    I am confused. he is being trashed because he actually said the word rather the use the phrase N-Word… a comment on how wrong it is to say the-word-that-shall-not-be-spoken?

    Sounds like EVERYONE agrees it is a vile word, the trashing is because he did not use double-speak?

    • Using an appropriate word for PEOPLE isn’t doublespeak unless you believe the N word is a legitimate way to identify someone.

      • Guest

        Ask a Black Rapper his opinion on that subject.

        My question is: if his content was “N… is a terrible word”, I am confused about the outrage. If his content was “I am allowed to use N…” that is worthy of outrage.

        • RBHolb

          How about “other people said N…, and no one made a fuss?”

          It’s akin to “those black rappers get to say N…, and it seems to be okay.”

          • Guest

            THAT is worthy of outrage. See what happened to Kramer from Friends TV show for a comedy bit that dropped into heckling and counter-heckling. His career died on that shore.

            IF “others get to say N, so I should too” was his content, then yes, I agree with the outrage. IF “we shouldn’t say N” was his content then I don’t see the outrage.

            Somebody who heard the whole conversation would know. I hold my call when I see only snippets.

    • RBHolb

      According to the SJWs at Forbes magazine, the comment was in response to calls for Schnatter to distance himself from racist groups after his criticism of NFL players’ anthem protests. Schnatter tried to down play what he said.

      “’Colonel Sanders called blacks n—–s,’ Schnatter said, before complaining that Sanders never faced public backlash.”

      • joetron2030

        “SJW”s? Really? They’re business reporters. They’re reporting news relevant to a major business in the US.

        • RBHolb

          Sarcasm, in advance of an anticipated “yes, but that’s the liberal media.”

          Forbes is one of the last places in the country where I would look for an “SJW.”

          • joetron2030

            Ah. Sorry for my outburst, then! I guess I’m still caffeine deficient. lol.

          • Jerry

            You know, at one time I would have said the same thing about Teen Vogue, yet here we are.

        • jon

          With the barrage that social justice has come under there are a lot of people being drafted into service, often for doing no more than what they had done before, making factual statements didn’t used to mean fighting for social justice… but now…

  • MrE85

    I think everyone can agree the food choices at Target Field just got a little better.

    • theoacme

      One word to make them a lot better: Davanni’s…

  • Rob

    Has The Russian Agent-In-Chief issued a tweet in Schnatter’s defense yet?

    • Not yet. He’s busy getting his performance review right now.

      • AmiSchwab

        so far very bad reviews

        • theoacme

          Except in Charlottesville, and at the Southern Baptist Convention, the Illinois Nazi’s March und Krystallnacht, and the entire state of Mississippi…rave reviews, the biglyest evah!

  • Kellan McDonald

    This is the stuppidest thing ever. So now a company will get kicked out of a baseball feild because of words…, if people are so offended then don’t eat the pIzza. Instead you have to March out the offended parade and get some kids and a manager who had nothing to do with the statement fired. You should all feel so proud.

    • Not kicked out because of words. Kicked out because of racism.

      and yes, contrary to what we thought just a few years ago, there are way more racists than we ever imagined who would be upset by such a thing.

      • Kellan McDonald

        Racism would insuate that Papa John’s discriminates against people based on the color of their skin. They would not hire people, serve people, or market to people who were not white. At no point in that conversation did he say he doesn’t want black people to not eat his pizza. He was upset because of the back lash he got for pulling his sponsorship of the NFL over the kneeling issue. What he was pointing out is that his competitors in the fast food space have used degratory remarks against black people and no one brings that up. He chose the wrong word to use, I agree. However, to infer that an entire company is racist because the CEO said a “verboden” word is a bridge to far.

        • RBHolb

          “What he was pointing out is that his competitors in the fast food space have used degratory remarks against black people and no one brings that up.”

          Harlan Sanders died in 1980. Papa John’s was founded in 1984. They were hardly “competitors.”

          • jon

            And he sold KFC in ’64* He bad mouthed KFC for years thereafter because they changed his gravy recipe…

            *coincidentally the same year the civil rights act passed…

          • Kellan McDonald

            The context the man used was that. The example he used was that. You can say they are not competitors all you want. In his mind they are. So as I said before, the man quit in a PR nightmare and he will go down as the idiot who said the wrong word on a conference call. That still does not justify the Papa John’s both at Target feild being closed. Those employees did nothing wrong, nor did the company, or any of the shareholders. Yet here we are punishing innocent people. It would be like Target feild kicking Pepsi out because they sponsored Ludicrous and he used the same language in his songs. We are going way to far in this virtue signaling here. Target feild need not say aword about the incident and we all would have been free to use our dollars to decide should Papa John’s stay or go.

          • The people working those stands were employees of Delaware North.

          • lindblomeagles

            Nice factoid Bob!

          • RBHolb

            There is more context to his remarks than just the specific point in time at which he made them. Schnatter, who is the public face of Papa John’s, was already under fire for his inflammatory comments about the NFL players’ anthem protests. In the course of a discussion in which he is refusing to take steps to distance himself from white nationalists, he brings up the fact that someone who has been dead for almost 40 years said the N word, and no one did anything about it then.

            Incidentally, the Louisville Courier Journal looked into whether Colonel Sanders did say that word. “While it’s impossible to know whether Sanders ever used the N-word, author Josh Ozersky wrote in his book, “Colonel Sanders and the American Dream,” that Sanders “said ‘Negro’ until informed by some well-meaning person that the term had become offensive.””


          • lindblomeagles

            Nice factoid here too!

          • lindblomeagles

            And yet, all the innocent, law-abiding, African American employees of professional football teams, were not given a choice to stand or kneel for the National Anthem. You can’t have it both ways Kellan. You can’t defend Papa John’s employees from the big white racist owner and then support the big white racist owners for taking away black employees’ right to Freedom of Speech.

        • I would describe that as a narrow definition of racism. And I would respond by noting that some of America’s biggest racists hired black people to work for them.

          They were still racists.

          • Kellan McDonald

            You are making a big assumption that just because he used a word you find abhorent that he is automaticly one of America’s biggest racist. Bob, you made up your mind well before penning this article that Papa John’s may as well be owned and run by hitler himself. I can’t use reason or logic to change your mind and I really don’t have the time to try. All I can say is that eventually the PC police will come for your businesses too. No person is without sin.

          • Jack Ungerleider

            Based on what’s been said here (I haven’t had time to look into the details myself) the root cause of this whole thing is that Papa John’s, private company, pulled it’s sponsorship of the NFL due players doing something John Schnatter didn’t like. How is that any different than the Twins, also a private company, discontinuing it’s business association with Papa John’s over something the CEO said?

          • Kellan McDonald

            You know what, you are right. Bottom line it is not. However, there is no article extoling the virtues of Papa John’s for standing up to those selfish NFL players at the top of the page. Instead it is an author declaring that this move is the moral equivalent of changing the name of lake Calhoun. Twins can do what they like. I don’t have to agree with it or like it. I just won’t attend games because in thier eyes, and the fans who support this move, all are welcome except people who support precieved racists.

          • lindblomeagles

            Like I said, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t say Papa John is a good man who just made a mistake saying something he shouldn’t and should not be punished. Then, seconds later, turn around and say the BLACK NFL football players don’t deserve the same “good men” credentials, don’t deserve to make some mistakes, and don’t deserve to escape punishment. Your entire system of who is right and who is wrong here, on the surface at least, appears to be motivated by race or, at the very least, economic occupation. The same selfishness you loathe in those athletes is present in John Schnatter, and that selfishness helped him build the empire known as “Papa John’s Pizza,” the delight to your tummy. Schnatter is actually wealthier than those players. Maybe, you want to re-examine your position?

          • Kellan McDonald

            Ok, first I never said he didn’t deserve to be punished. I said he should be fired. He was. What I said is that the company should not be punished. In case you missed it the NFL protests where done by white players too. It was not just black. My loathing for the players was that they protested during the anthem not the color of thier skin. You just called me racist in your statement, yet you don’t know me. The players of the NFL just like Papa John are employees. If a manager or board sees actions of the person to be worthy of termination then those are the bricks. I was for the NFL players to be fired and I am for Papa to be fired. Not about race or anything else.

          • lindblomeagles

            Good point!

          • Yes, I made up my mind that someone who uses the N word in conversation is a racist. No, I was not on the fence about that point. Yes, I was proud of the Minnesota Twins for backing up its talk of providing a welcoming environment for fans just as I have been when the Minnesota Lynx , the WNBA, and the NBA (on the rare occasions when it does) take a stand for a better, more inclusive world.

            I consider all of that a feature not a bug.

          • Kellan McDonald

            You must consider every black rapper racist then?

          • Ah, here we go. Took a lot longer to get here than I thought it would, though.

          • Kellan McDonald

            If your deffinition of racism is the use of a word, not the actions or intent of an individual, then you have to apply to same standard. I don’t consider every black rapper racist because of the use of words. I do consider them racist when they attribute intent or actions or attitudes based on the color of someone’s skin….the definition of racism. You are not applying intent or action. Instead you are saying if you use this word you are a racist! So if that is the only definition you will use then all black rappers are racist.

          • lindblomeagles

            I believe John Schnatter already demonstrated he was racist when he blamed Black NFL players protesting the National Anthem that they, specifically, caused his business to lose money, without any real substantial proof of that.

          • Kellan McDonald

            He blamed the NFL for not controling thier players and that inaction caused ratings to fall which affected his ability to sell pizza. That is not blaming black players. You are not representing the facts.

          • Frank

            White players protest too. Did he exempt them from criticism?

          • lindblomeagles

            Getting off topic here aren’t we???? Besides, the Twins don’t play rap music that are offensive to women, whites, blacks, LGBTQ, I could go on . . .

          • Kellan McDonald

            The twins have two walk up songs by Dr. Dre and T.I. both of which have songs that glorify violence towards police, woman, and other blacks. They have songs where they call other men “fags” as a derogatory statement. Yet there is no call to have these walk up songs changed. Why is that?

          • lindblomeagles

            Bob’s right about that too. He’s covered the other teams (other stories like the police who played basketball with neighborhood Black kids in the South after a racist neighbor called the cops on them — GREAT STORY) on this blog who have championed inclusivity.

          • lindblomeagles

            Speaking of sin, when given the chance to repent, as Jesus has taught us Christians, Bob Schnatter refused, until, that is, his exchange was revealed to the public. Revelation is the power of prayer!

          • AL287

            Only now because of the 2016 Presidential election and the current occupant of the White House, racists and bigots feel free to discriminate, segregate and harass people of color.

            I’m curious what would have happened during the Civil Rights era if the Internet and social media had been in existence.

          • lindblomeagles

            Best point of the day!

        • lindblomeagles

          The bridge too far Kellan is the one where racists still think THIS IS 1964 instead of 2018. Maybe if we censored racists right after 1964, we would not have to do it now some 54 years later.

          • Kellan McDonald

            Again, I will ask. Why is he a racist? Racism by definition requires some kind of intent or malice. His comment did not meet those requirements. I agree what he said was stupid and he should have lost his job. What I disagree with is that he, and by proxy, his company are now the evil racists of the 1800’s because he said a word that is used in pop culture all the time. It’s like the offended birgade is just looking for an excuse to point at a white person and claim racist.

          • // e is just looking for an excuse to point at a racist white person and claim racist.


          • Veronica

            Well, we never should have let slave owning states have as much of a say at the Constitutional Congress. That was mistake #1.

          • Frank

            There were slaves in all the original 13 colonies. By the time the Constitution was written, 5 had abolished it leaving 8 where it was still practised.

            History; it’s a thing.

      • misfitsoda

        I’d reccomend actually reading an article on what was said before putting your fingers in your ears chanting “blah blah racism racism racism”.

        • It was a conference call on sensitivity training. He dropped the N word — whether he was quoting someone is pretty irrelevant considering the context and you also left out the part about recalling growing up in Indiana where he said people would kill African-Americans by dragging them from their trucks a reflection that was considered offensive in the context.

          Clearly there are people who don’t think that’s racist.

          Those people are usually white and it never , ever occurs to them that they’re wrong.

          • misfitsoda

            Well, I didnt leave out any part, I didnt assert anything.
            Come on. Quoting someone is irrelevant? In a court of law when reading testimony should they say “n-word”?
            And I’m floored you’re responding to me considering you wrote this piece. Like….dont do that. It comes off as not being confident about your piece and also just really amateurish.

          • Veronica

            Did…did you just call Bob an amateur on his own blog?

            How did you get to this comment section?

            So here is the deal: when white dudes say something, you take him at his word. When they say the N word, it’s a racist comment. When they say something about grabbing women, they actually would do it. Its never a joke. It’s always serious. And anyone who doesn’t get that needs to realize that it’s a very, very short trip from excusing it to doing it. There but for the grace of God they will go.

    • lindblomeagles

      Don’t worry Kellan. I feel very proud.

  • It’s worth noting that the Minnesota Lynx have done the same thing with Papa John’s, but for whatever reason, have not gotten the same level of press coverage for it. It got a brief mention in the Star Tribune article about the Twins doing this –

    • BJ

      Probably equal to the amount of press coverage the teams gets normally.

  • boB from WA

    I feel for the franchisees who have to put up with this kind of stuff. It will be they (and their employees) who will take the hit on this one.

  • Rixware

    The Twins did the right thing, and we must take their motive at face value. But it may have been a relatively easy move to make because there never was any line to speak of at the pizza windows at Target Field. The slices were, to be blunt, terrible. Those stands were probably the least visited — and least profitable — fixed concession stands in the ballpark. We can only wonder if the outcome would have been the same had it been the CEO of, say, Anheuser-Busch or, God forbid, Target.

  • Postal Customer

    There was no rain delay on Friday 7/13. I was at the game — it was a nice night 🙂

    • Yeah, I guess it was Thursday night, now that you mention it. Working 10 games in 11 days while trying to hold down a 60-hour-a-week fulltime job makes everything blur. I don’t be doing that again.

      • lindblomeagles

        It was definitely Thursday Night. I was taking my daughter to a softball game in White Bear Lake when the heavens just OPENED up on us literally on 35E just before 6 PM. Parts of the neighborhood near my daughter’s ballfield were badly flooded and our game got cancelled. What a storm.

  • Frank

    Correct me if I’m wrong (doesn’t hurt my feelings, my kids do it every day), but since the CEO has resigned, what more should Papa John’s do to stay in the good graces of MLB, the MN Twins, or anyone?

    Has there been a call for a Starbucks-like company wide retraining, or something on that order? Is this a sort of death penalty for Pap John’s?

    Will there be a push to remove Pap John’s from all major league sports venues? Are they on any college campuses, or in hospitals?

    I have no problem with the guy being drummed out, good riddance to bad rubbish. I’d just like to know what sort of standard we as a society are applying here. My questions are genuine, 100% snark-free.

    • Guest

      Valid points. HOW does one return to good graces?

  • misfitsoda

    Sorry, slow down. No one thinks this is all going a touch too far? This guy wasnt even directing the word at anyone. He literally just said n….r instead of saying “the n-word” when quoting someone. Yes, yes racism is evil and we all hate it, but it wasnt a racist comment. You shouldn’t faint in anger or terror because you hear the mere utterance of a word and were not children, we shouldn’t be saying “the X-word”.
    So the guy was fired, kicked out of the office, now they’re removing papa John’s from ….everything? What is it they want from this place, blood? Isnt this all starting to have a Salem vibe? Good lord, can some adults take the reigns here again?

    • Kellan McDonald

      I was just thinking the same thing. A bunch of people sitting around trying to find the racists.

    • RBHolb

      First, he wasn’t quoting anyone. He “literally just said” that a person who has been dead for nearly 40 years [supposedly] said N… [supposedly] without getting into trouble for it, so why was it so bad for him to make a false statement about NFL players protesting racism?

      Second, his statement was on a par with the tired old “black rappers can say it, why can’t anyone else? Not that I want to” line.

      Third, “it wasnt a racist comment.” Sorry, but wondering why your actions are regarded as racist when someone in the dim past may have gotten away with something else isn’t going to win you any brotherhood awards.

  • lindblomeagles

    Some bloggers are trying to explain John Schnatter’s use and intent of the N-word, and are confused by the backlash Schnatter received from this. But the problem is larger than what Schnatter said, how he said it, what his intent was, or even what his punishment should be. We live in the technological era – not the media era, or the post 1960s era, or the pre 1960s era. When a corporate representative says something that may cause offense, it is distributed to a much, much, much broader audience via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and all the other social media engines we find so appealing when the subject matter is innocent. Instead of Washington Post readers, or Newscut readers, or Star Tribune readers receiving a negative Papa John’s message affecting solely the Twin Cities population of no more than a 1 million people, the message encompasses the entire United States population, and any population in the world where Papa John’s is located. That’s how fast word travels on the Internet, and the people pushing the word are people like us, not journalists like Bob. The size of the audience is different than it ever has been in recorded human history and the people now engaged in the media is different thanks to social media. Companies DO NOT WANT to be seen as insensitive, money hungry, automotons. They want customers to feel like the corporation cares, because caring is the motivation that makes people buy more goods and services. Racism doesn’t care. It overpowers. It overburdens. It harms. And it totally kills the will to buy goods and services in a 21st century (global) world.