Pizza chain Papa John's will end its sponsorship deal with the NFL next season, after years of being "the official pizza of the NFL."

The end of the pizza chain's sponsorship comes two months after Papa John's founder and CEO John Schnatter stepped down amid controversy over remarks he made about NFL players' protests during the national anthem hurting the company's business. 

The announcement was reported first by Fox Business Network's Charles Gasparino before being confirmed in an earnings call with the company's investors Tuesday afternoon.


In a statement to media, the two organizations announced that the business relationship would shift to individual relationships with local NFL teams and personalities.

"The NFL and Papa John's have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport," a statement obtained by ESPN read.

During a press call in November, Schnatter said the NFL had hurt the chain's business by refusing to address the protests, which at the time were inflamed into a national controversy by remarks from President TrumpDonald TrumpStowaway found in landing gear of plane after flight from Guatemala to Miami Kushner looking to Middle East for investors in new firm: report GOP eyes booting Democrats from seats if House flips MORE.

The president's remarks last year calling on NFL team owners to fire players who protest sparked dozens of other protests across the league, and a rift between some conservative fans and NFL teams. 


This story was updated at 7:31 p.m.