So lets talk about the only thing that really mattered to NFL fans this past week.

They instituted a new policy for the national anthem. You can stay in the locker room, but if you come out on the field you have to stand (and not demonstrate in any way) during the anthem or there will be a fine.

I’m not going to talk at length about my opinion on the anthem protests. If you are a longtime reader, you already know what side I’m on. There are people out there far more equipped to talk about this situation, the implications, the politics, the problems, than a guy who draws football puns and butts for the internet. If you’re not a longtime reader here’s the TL/DR: I think this country was founded on the right to protest and forced patriotism is creepy, and far too many people have co-opted the narrative of the protest into being about the flag and the military so they can avoid talking about the actual reason and purpose of the protest: racial inequality. That’s what side I fall on, but this post isn’t really about that. This is about the NFL’s amazing ability to be stupid.

It doesn’t really matter on what side of the anthem argument you stand on, because this new policy has accomplished absolutely nothing but make everything worse for the NFL. It is positively astounding to me how the NFL continues to make everything worse for itself over and over and over again. I’ve had a running theme of criticizing the league itself, the owners, and the commissioner on The Draw Play. It’s a favorite subject of mine. This latest thing is honestly kind of hilarious to me. To me it was never really interesting what side of the anthem arguments the NFL was going to come down on, because the answer was always obvious: the side of the group that gives them lots and lots of money. The NFL doesn’t give a fuck about my opinion on the anthem, or yours. They care about the sweet, sweet endorsement dollars they get from the department of defense. The protests, thanks to the narrative co-opting, have become about the military, and now the protests are viewed as unpatriotic. This protesting therefore cannot be tolerated when the person putting mega money in your pocket is the fucking military. The NFL is in a deep committed relationship with the military propaganda machine. Hey look, another game with jets flying over it! I could barely see the jets from under my sweet team camo hat. Be all you can be.

It’s amazing how badly the NFL still managed to fuck it up, again. Roger Goodell’s tenure as commissioner, especially over the past 5-10 years, have been scandal after scandal made so much worse by taking obvious wrong moves. Ray Rice getting a measly 2 game suspension for a horrible shocking moment, only to commit double jeopardy and bungle the suspension even more when the full video came out. The NFL going overboard in effort to make an example out of a pathetically small offense by a star QB in order to look TOUGH. The laughable attempts to handle the CTE thing. Baffling drug policies. Responding to criticisms of the rulebook by making the rules more complicated and harder to call. If the NFL has made any correct decisions in the past decade, it’s only after they first made it worse.

The NFL used to be really damn good at sweeping this stuff under the rug, out of sight. They used to be very good at promptly and swiftly dealing with scandals and issues effectively and smoothly. Now they are the poster child for doing it wrong and this is just the latest example of making the choice that is just going to punch them in the dick even more.

The NFL, more than anything, wants this anthem thing to just go away. All they did was ensure that it’s just going to get worse.

This policy isn’t going to change the minds of the people protesting. This isn’t changing anyone’s mind. So the people who are protesting will continue to protest. They will continue to talk to the press. They will continue to get coverage. The coverage they were already getting will now be amplified, because there are higher stakes involved and this new policy wrinkle has been added. Their opinions on this policy will now be stories. Reporters are going to go to games and take roll call on teams, see who is still in the locker room. The protest may not be visible on screen, but we are still gonna know who is protesting, so we are still gonna hear about it. This doesn’t really hide the protests like the NFL thinks it will.

On top of that, there will be players who can afford a fine who will still come out and demonstrate, now deliberately breaking a rule that wasn’t there before, which will make those players even bigger stories, even more of a hot-button issue. The protests were fading in coverage by the end of last season. We already knew who was kneeling and who felt what. It was becoming background noise, slowly but surely. This has given the protests new life, new vigor, and the press on both sides is going to have a field day talking about it once more. How each and every team deals with the protests will be loud stories too. Which owners are supportive of which sides will become a thing. We’ve already seen some dissent from certain high ups like Jed York and the Jets chairman Christopher Johnson. Before this the NFL felt like a unified monolith looming in the distance behind the issue. Now we’ll be able to see lots more little exposed angles for EVEN MORE PRESS! Yay!

On top of that, the NFL things worse in other ways! They didn’t consult the NFLPA about this decision whatsoever, which means they may have violated player rights! Good job, NFL, now you have a labor issue too! The NFLPA is kind of a powerless joke, and whether or not the players first amendment rights have been violated is questionable (Since the NFL is a private entity), but they still made an issue where there was none! Now there’s going to be a fight, which means more coverage! More press! More talking about the thing the NFL just wants to go away. Good job, idiots.

This isn’t a win for any side, even if you agree that the players should “respect the anthem”. All this policy does is amplify and reinvigorate the arguments . The protests were fading. People were getting bored and tired of hearing about them. Kaep has been out of the league for over a year and is very clearly never seeing a football field again, so the biggest figurehead of the entire thing wasn’t even as much of a factor in the discussion anymore. The protests were becoming routine, even if you supported them, because nothing was coming from it but more and more repetitive discussions of points already made. The NFL had an extremely obvious solution to their “anthem problem”. Ignore it. Do nothing publicly. At the very minimum, keep the entire team in the locker room. Out of sight, things fade from coverage quickly. We were probably a season from the protests just kinda fading away to background noise.

Instead the league hilariously farted in their own faces.