As the fallout continues over Duck Dynasty patriarch Phil Robertson’s comments to GQ magazine, two national corporate entities appeared to be going in opposite directions, though one has now reversed field. Several of the show sponsors and Duck Commander affiliates have been under pressure from gay rights groups to disassociate from the show and Robertson.
Cracker Barrel Old General Store announced that the company is removing some of the merchandise associated with the popular television show that some people may find offensive. After pressure from customers, the restaurant released a new statement Sunday morning reversing the position. The company has a local restaurant on Norrell Drive in Trussville.
“Cracker Barrel’s mission is pleasing people,” the company said on their Facebook page on Friday. “We operate within the ideals of fairness, mutual respect and equal treatment of all people. These ideals are the core of our corporate culture. We continue to offer Duck Commander products in our stores. We removed selected products which we were concerned might offend some of our guests while we evaluate the situation. We continually evaluate the products we offer and will continue to do so.”
People flocked to the Cracker Barrel Facebook page, most to express their displeasure, and one consumer demanded to know what items were removed from store shelves.
Suzanne McNutt Blood asked, “What products might that be? Why now, if they weren’t offensive before?”
According to Taylor Johnson who identifies himself as a host at Cracker Barrel, the items removed bore the likeness of Phil Robertson.
“I work at Cracker Barrel, and I was the one in charge of removing the stuff last night,” Taylor wrote. “It’s just the stuff with Phil on it. All other Duck Commander items are still there. Just his book, a keychain, a magnet, and the shirts, hats, and cups with his face or ‘happy happy happy’ on it were removed.”
Sunday morning, the restaurant issued a new statement saying they would return the items to the shelves.
“Dear Cracker Barrel Customer: When we made the decision to remove and evaluate certain Duck Dynasty items, we offended many of our loyal customers. Our intent was to avoid offending, but that’s just what we’ve done. You told us we made a mistake. And, you weren’t shy about it. You wrote, you called and you took to social media to express your thoughts and feelings. You flat out told us we were wrong. We listened. Today, we are putting all our Duck Dynasty products back in our stores. And, we apologize for offending you. We respect all individuals right to express their beliefs. We certainly did not mean to have anyone think different. We sincerely hope you will continue to be part of our Cracker Barrel family.”
Meanwhile, one of the show’s major sponsors, Under Armour, announced that they plan no changes in the company’s relationship with Duck Commander despite disagreeing with Robertson’s views, according to Breitbart.com.
Breitbart reports Under Armour sponsors the Duck Commander business that Phil Robertson founded.
“We have no plans to change our current relationship,” Under Armour told TMZ before saying that Robertson’s comments “are not indicative of Under Armour’s views.”
Under Armour’s views are similar to those of TMZ editor Harvey Levin, who happens to be gay, Breibart said.
According to the website, “Levin said though he did not agree with Robertson’s views or comments, his comments were ‘religious” and “not hate-based.‘ Levin said Robertson has a right to express his views and A&E should not have suspended him.”
Breitbart also reports that the Under Armour website says the Duck Commander shirts are currently sold out.
The future of the highest rated television show in cable history remains in doubt after the Robertson family issued a statement saying they could not see a future for the show without Phil.
“We want to thank all of you for your prayers and support,” the Robertson family said in a prepared statement. “The family has spent much time in prayer since learning of A&E’s decision. We want you to know that first and foremost we are a family rooted in our faith in God and our belief that the Bible is His word. While some of Phil’s unfiltered comments to the reporter were coarse, his beliefs are grounded in the teachings of the Bible. Phil is a Godly man who follows what the Bible says are the greatest commandments: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart” and “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Phil would never incite or encourage hate. We are disappointed that Phil has been placed on hiatus for expressing his faith, which is his constitutionally protected right. We have had a successful working relationship with A&E but, as a family, we cannot imagine the show going forward without our patriarch at the helm. We are in discussions with A&E to see what that means for the future of Duck Dynasty. Again, thank you for your continued support of our family.”
Publisher’s note: An earlier version of this story did not include this morning’s statement by Cracker Barrel as the story was being edited and published when the new statement was released. That story has been deleted and replaced with the most current version, which also includes the most recent statement by Cracker Barrel.