A center drafted by Chicago in 1984, the Bears posted a 15-1 record in your second season. What was the key?
“I think the groundwork had been laid by Mike (Ditka) when he got there. I think he got a lot of buy-in because of his credibility as having been a player in the past, having been a proven winner in the past. Some showed it in different ways than others, but at the end of the day I think everybody bought into the idea that we could in fact win the Super Bowl.”
The Bears would in fact win Super Bowl XX. Was the whole experience what you expected it would be?
“Every bit and then some. At that time we didn’t have an indoor facility so we had some strange travel arrangements. (Such as) practicing in Atlanta’s facility on our way down to Louisiana (for the Super Bowl against New England). To practice in sub-zero weather didn’t seem to make a whole lot of sense considering we weren’t going to be playing in sub-zero weather.”
What makes you most proud of your playing career?
“The fact that I had the opportunity to play on a fantastic team like the ’85 Bears with the cast of characters there. And most importantly, a lot of guys are in the league for a long time and never get the opportunity to play in a Super Bowl, let alone win a Super Bowl. So I would say the Super Bowl is probably the thing I am most proud of.”
You went to work in the corporate offices of Papa John’s Pizza in 1994. How did that begin?
“I had broken into selling commercial printing. And at that time, Papa John’s had about 200 stores. (The founder) John (Schnatter) being the visionary that he is, decided to start doing our own print. And with 200 stores, we built a nice, big printing facility. But our stores weren’t going to be able to supply it completely at that time. So what John wanted me to do was come on board and sell commercial printing and our excess press time.
“Needless to say, with the rapid growth of Papa John’s, it wasn’t long before we didn’t have a whole lot of excess press time. I actually made the transition at that point over into operations and learned how to do everything it would take to run a restaurant so that I could go out and do some troubleshooting and work in the restaurants with other team members trying to diagnose any problems we were having and correct them.”
What do you do now as the Senior Director of Development?
“I do anything from visit stores to check on how they’re built to selling territories and franchises. (I’ll soon be travelling) to India, where we’re in the process of converting 40 stores from another pizza company to Papa John’s. I’ll be going there to look through the stores and see how the conversions have taken place and make sure that everything is done the way we want it to be done.”
You mentioned there were about 200 stores when you began. How many are there now?
“We’ve got 4,659 stores. We consider North America (to be) the continental United States, Canada, Alaska and Hawaii (where) we’ve got 3,339 stores. And then internationally, we’ve got 1,320 stores (in 34 countries). So needless to say, the growth is in the international stores.”
What makes Papa John’s so successful?
“Realistically, the reason you get involved in a franchise is because we’ve figured things out. You don’t have to come in and reinvent the wheel. Basically, using a football cliché, you take their playbook that they’ve established and been successful with and you execute their playbook. And as long as you do things the right way, a lot of our franchisees will tell you that’s what makes them successful.
“John will tell you that he wakes up in the morning thinking Papa John’s and he goes to bed at night thinking Papa John’s. He pretty much challenges (the potential franchisees) that if that’s not what you’re going to do and that’s now how you’re thinking about this, then this is the wrong business for you because it’s certainly a business that you’ve got to work, you’ve got to get out on the streets and market it. Work with church groups, youth groups, you basically need to own whatever town you’re in. You need to own that market.”
OK, you’re before a judge and under oath. Ever get tired of pizza?
“We’ve got a restaurant here (at the corporate offices), so we can have pizza every day. But even John will tell you that you can’t eat pizza every day given the calories and everything involved. So with that being said, while we’ve got all the pizza products available to us, he’s also put in a pretty nice soup and salad bar. So you can change it up throughout the week. [Laughs]