Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans Lock Arms in 'Moment of Unity' on Opening Night
The two teams gathered at center field for a moment of unity, during which some fans and players heard boos coming from the crowd
The world was a vastly different place when the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl in February.
On Thursday night, the Chiefs and the NFL returned to action after a turbulent offseason that included the coronavirus pandemic and nationwide calls for social justice reform.
Before their game, the Chiefs and the Houston Texans gathered at center field at Arrowhead Stadium for a "moment of unity," which saw players from both teams lock arms and bow their heads. Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes — who has been outspoken in his support for equality issues — stood next to Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. The two quarterbacks are credited with coming up with the idea, NBC Sports said.
Some on social media, though, suggested the moment was marred when a portion of the 17,000 fans at Arrowhead booed players and coaches during their display of unity. The boos can allegedly be heard in a video posted to the Texans' Twitter account, along with eventual cheers from the crowd.
A pre-recorded version of the national anthem by Chloe x Halle was played in lieu of a live performance before the game, and Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor kneeled during "The Star-Spangled Banner."
After the game, Texans star JJ Watt called the apparent boos by fans — which came after the Texans decided to stay in the locker room during the national anthem — "unfortunate."
"The moment of unity I personally thought was good,” Watt told NFL Network, via USA Today. “I mean the booing during that moment was unfortunate. I don’t fully understand that. There was no flag involved. There was nothing involved other than two teams coming together to show unity."
Watt also talked about the diversity of the team and the need to support social justice issues.
"A locker room is a very diverse place," he said. "There's people from all different backgrounds, there's people from all different situations. I've been very fortunate to be a part of a lot of locker rooms throughout my life."
"In this locker room, we've had more conversations than we've ever had about topics that may be uncomfortable to talk about," Watt continued. "Maybe people have never opened up these conversations."
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In August, the Chiefs announced they were making changes to some of their traditions with respect to Native American communities.
At the start of the 2020 season, the team is no longer allowing fans to wear Native American headdresses inside the stadium, and face paint styled in a way that "references or appropriates American Indian cultures and traditions" is also prohibited.
The team is also reviewing the "Arrowhead Chop," an action performed by fans that simulates the chopping of a weapon linked to indigenous peoples in North America.