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Pizza Hut could soon fill the Papa John’s NFL void

Fast Food Restaurants Remain Firm Favourites With UK Consumers

BRISTOL, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 20: A branch of Pizza Hut is pictured on February 20, 2018 in Bristol, England. The number of takeaway restaurants has increased significantly in the last few years and this has raised concerns that this can lead to over-consumption in cheap, unhealthy high-fat nutrient-poor food and drink leading to higher body weight and greater risk of obesity. (Photo by Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

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With the Scouting Combine starting, it makes plenty of sense (actually none) that one of the major NFL-related talking points relates to the league’s pizza deal.

On Tuesday, Papa John’s announced that it’s no longer the official pizza of the NFL. The buzz in Indianapolis is that Pizza Hut could be quickly named as the replacement, as soon as Wednesday.

This would mean that the NFL has known that the change is coming, and that the NFL had moved quickly to get a new deal in place.

When it comes to national pizza chains, there aren’t many. Pizza Hut, Papa John’s, and Dominos represent the entire universe of Big Pizza, unless a home-baked alternative like DiGiorno’s were to decide to get in the game. (Or Michael Scott’s favorite New York pizza joint.)

The relationship between the NFL and Papa John’s disintegrated amid an effort by former Papa John’s CEO John Schnatter to publicly blame corporate struggles on the NFL’s reduced ratings and anthem controversy. Many believe Schnatter was acting at the behest of Cowboys owner Jerry Jones.

Jones has an ownership stake in more than 100 Papa John’s locations. If Jones is interested in flipping to Pizza Hut, the corporate headquarters is in Plano, Texas, not far from Dallas.