Patrick Mahomes and Deshaun Watson directed traffic at midfield and locked arms as teammates from both the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans lined up next to them ahead of Thursday night’s NFL opener.
It was a show of unity amid a moment of silence for equality in the United States. And while some of the COVID-19-downsized crowd at Arrowhead Stadium cheered, there are also very clear boos.
During the moment of unity between the Texans and Chiefs, some fans responded by booing.pic.twitter.com/qRnle1XiJg— Yahoo Sports (@YahooSports) September 11, 2020
Texans defensive end J.J. Watt, who stood linked with Watson near the 50-yard-line, heard them and spoke out about it after the game.
Watt questions fans who booed moment of unity
Coaches and players for both teams were asked about it after the game and many said they didn’t notice any boos from the crowd of about 16,000.
“The moment of unity I personally thought was good,” Watt told reporters. “The booing was unfortunate during that moment — I don’t fully understand that, there was no flag in that, there was nothing involved in that other than two teams coming together to show unity.”
The Texans decided to stay in the locker room for the playing of the national anthem as well as the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” often called the Black anthem. Michele Tafoya reported during the NBC broadcast the players made that choice so there was “no misinterpretation of them celebrating one song or throwing shade on the other.”
Some fans believed the crowd was actually cheering “CHIIIIIEFS” and others said the boos were directed at the Texans for possibly getting out late to the field. Or, simply, because they were the opponent.
But at least one fan took to Twitter and proudly shared that he booed to “have our voices heard!”
Chiefs’ Reid: ‘We can all learn from this’
The Chiefs stayed on the field for both songs and many stood with their arms linked on the sideline. Defensive end Alex Okafor appeared to be the only player who kneeled for the defending Super Bowl champions.
Coach Andy Reid praised the moment of unity after the game, saying the “story was told” with the choice of singers, presentation and the teams joining together “for a cause.”
“We can all learn from this,” Reid said. “And really it’s just to make us all better and a stronger country than we already are. We have a chance to be completely unstoppable when all hands join together and that’s a beautiful thing.”
The end zones featured the phrases “It Takes All Of Us” and “End Racism.” Players could also choose phrases or names of those victimized by police brutality to be put on the back of their helmets. An NFL video promoting social justice played on the in-house big screen and the NBC broadcast opened with a video doing the same.
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