At Thursday’s NFL season opener, the Houston Texans stayed in their locker room for both the pregame playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing”, which is often called the Black national anthem.
The Kansas City Chiefs, meanwhile, were on the field for both songs. The defending Super Bowl champions stood on their sideline during the national anthem, many with arms linked. Defensive end Alex Okafor appeared to be the lone player who kneeled. All stood on a goal line for Alicia Keys’ performance of “Lift Every Voice and Sing. ”When Houston eventually took the field, the respective quarterbacks for both teams, the Chiefs’ Patrick Mahomes and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson, organized a lineup of all the players. They stood with arms linked during a moment of silence. The fact that players standing together during a moment of silence would cause such a reaction from some of the sport’s most devoted fans is one reason the NFL has seemingly stopped worrying about everyone’s opinions.
It was a few seconds of respectful demonstration.
And yet still, some objected to it occurring, objected to the quiet views and simple actions of no less than Mahomes and his teammates, who had delivered the city a long-awaited Super Bowl. If that isn’t a reasonable or peaceful enough of a “protest” then it’s not what the players are doing, but the fact they are doing anything at all. This was the culmination of an issues-heavy run-up to the traditional season kickoff. The offseason was overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic and civil unrest following multiple high-profile incidents involving African Americans and the police.
The NBC pregame show was full of segments and videos promoting activism and social justice efforts. The phrases “It Takes All Of Us” and “End Racism” were painted behind each end zone. An NFL video promoting social justice also played on the big screen.
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