If the NFL wasn’t so inept about social issues, I might feel sorry for it.

The league cannot get out of its own way, whether it’s how to handle cases of domestic violence, denying its sport causes brain injuries, whether footballs were deflated or not, or denying freedom of speech.

The NFL has decided that everyone on the field must stand for the National Anthem, and those who do not want to stand must stay in the locker room.

RIP freedom of speech.

In my house hangs a shadow box my wife made as a memorial to my late father. In it is his Purple Heart he was awarded for defending this country during World War II.

Like all who serve this country, he fought for freedom. Freedom for all. He didn’t pick and choose who he was fighting for or which freedoms.

If he were alive today, he might not like people not standing at attention for the flag and anthem, but he would know he put his life on the line for people to have freedom of speech.

The fact athletes kneeling is called disrespectful ignores why they are kneeling. They are protesting police brutality against people of color.

Ironically, the NFL made its decision in a week when a video surfaced of police officers surrounding and tasing a black athlete for parking across two parking spots.

If everyone who parked poorly got tased, I’d buy stock in tasers.

It seems the issue has less to do with being disrespectful than it does with the color of the skin of the protestors.

If disrespecting the flag and anthem are an issue, then almost everyone who gathers at events where the anthem is played has probably been disrespectful at one time or another and might still be.

While the anthem is being played people are talking, they are texting, they are looking around, they are taking pictures, they are at the concession stand buying drinks and some already have a belly full of adult beverages by the time the anthem is played and are not standing.

All of those things that people do during the anthem are more disrespectful than someone kneeling or sitting quietly while it is played.

If you have ever taken a picture on your phone or talked or texted while the anthem is being played then you have been disrespectful, and the president said you should probably leave the country.

Please form an orderly line so you are not disrespectful to others.

The NFL’s ruling is only going to rekindle the issue. Those who stay in the locker room will be singled out. There also might be those who continue to sit or kneel on the field while the anthem is played.

This issue is only going to get hotter, and the NFL has done nothing but turn up the heat by limiting freedom of speech.

The league is a mess, but then again, what should we expect when it cannot even figure out when a player catches a pass or not.