It was not the first time Schnatter has sparked controversy. His 2017 book promoted the virtues of deregulation, and he caused a stir in 2012 when he said the Affordable Care Act will be a "lose-lose" situation for his franchisees and employees.
Ritchie did not say if the NFL comments played into the decision to have Schnatter step down. He simply said it is "the right time to make this change." Schnatter also stepped down as CEO for three years in 2005.
There was no announcement as to whether Schnatter would continue to appear as the company spokesperson.
Schnatter founded Papa John's out of a closet in his father's bar over 30 years ago. Today there are more than 5,000 locations, and the company is a major sponsor of the NFL.