The Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans made a joint demonstration against racial injustice before the start of the first NFL game of the season at Arrowhead Stadium.
Chiefs and Texans players were in communication with one another about a joint demonstration before the game, and both teams came together at midfield before kickoff.
The teams called it a "moment of unity."
During the “moment of unity” the scoreboard displayed a statement from players on both teams: “We support equality. We must end racism. We believe in justice for all. We must end police brutality. We choose unconditional love. We believe Black Lives Matter. It takes all of us.”
During the demonstration, a large amount of boos could be heard as Chiefs and Texans lined up and linked arms together.
“The moment of unity I personally thought was good. The booing was unfortunate in that moment,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said after the Chiefs emerged with a 34-20 victory. “I don’t fully understand that. There was no flag involved, there was nothing involved with that besides two teams coming together to show unity.”
“We had a few player meetings and let everybody know that we had their back,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said. “You know, you can go ahead and whatever you feel is the right decision in your heart, you have your brother’s back, and you have your brother’s support on this team. We made sure everybody was comfortable in that area.”
Still, the booing by some fans became the dominant story line on social media as the game played out.
“I didn’t really hear the booing. I didn’t notice that,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “I just I thought that that was a nice thing to do. So I’m not sure why they would do that. Maybe they were just booing us because we had just come on the field as the visiting team. But yeah, I thought that that was a very nice gesture.”
Before the moment, the Houston Texans went to the locker room before “Lift Every Voice and Sing” was performed and stayed in the locker room for the national anthem. The Chiefs remained on the field for both, and it was after the national anthem that both teams came together.
Only Chiefs defensive lineman Alex Okafor did not stand for the national anthem.
The league plans to play “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” which is widely considered the Black national anthem, along with “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games this season as it recognizes social justice initiatives across the country.
Chiefs players – including Super Bowl MVP quarterback Patrick Mahomes and star safety Tyrann Mathieu – have been vocal leading up to game day about using the national attention the season-opening game will attract to send a message about racism and inequality in America.
During pregame warmup, Chiefs players wore red shirts that said “Vote” on the front. Mahomes wore cleats that said “Change” on them.
“We’ll do something in unison, something together to show our support for everybody out there who doesn’t have the platform that we have,” Mahomes said earlier this week.
Both Mahomes and Mathieu said earlier this week they have 100% support from the Chiefs organization.
"I think, whatever we do, we’ll try our best to display unity, togetherness, even if that’s with the opposing team," Mathieu said. "But, I think, if anything, people should take away from whatever we may do, they’ll take away the unity and the togetherness part of it. So, that’s ultimately the picture we’re trying to paint for our league and for the world going forward.”