On the opening night of the 2020 NFL season, fans at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Missouri, booed during a pregame demonstration of unity.
The “Moment of Unity” was orchestrated by Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes and Houston Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, Sports Illustrated reports. Both teams locked arms at midfield prior to the start of the game.
— Houston Texans (@HoustonTexans) September 11, 2020
The moment of solidarity followed the performance of the national anthem. Although some Texans players remained on the field, others opted to stay in the locker room during the performance of both the national anthem and the Black national anthem "Lift Every Voice and Sing."
Players on Kansas City’s football team decided to stay on the field, however, Chiefs linebacker Alex Okafor was the only KC player to take a knee during the national anthem, per SI.
Several phrases were also projected from the scoreboard during the demonstrations that include “We Believe Black Lives Matter,” “We Must End Racism” and “We Must End Police Brutality.”
After the game, Texans star lineman J.J. Watt expressed disappointment in those booing during what was meant to showcase unity and togetherness.
"The moment of unity I personally thought was good,” Watt told the NFL Network. “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."
J.J. Watt’s full quote when asked about the #texans staying in the locker room and the moment of unity on the field.
"The moment of unity I personally thought was good. I mean the booing during that moment was unfortunate." pic.twitter.com/3fGAN5qatN
— James Palmer (@JamesPalmerTV) September 11, 2020
Mahomes said he is unified with his NFL brothers and will continue to fight against social injustice.
"We wanted to show that we're unified as a league and we're not going to let playing football distract us from what we're doing and making change in this world," he said during a post-game interview.
"We wanted to show that we're unified as a league and we're not going to let playing football distract us from what we're doing and making change in this world." @PatrickMahomes explains the Moment of Unity between the Chiefs and Texans before the game. ???????????? pic.twitter.com/U2fhbMBrrE
— Sunday Night Football (@SNFonNBC) September 11, 2020
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas chimed in on the moment, acknowledging that there were some fans who disapproved of the "Moment of Unity," but those were the minority.
"We’re a good city of good people. I heard boos too. But we also have hundreds of thousands more around here who respect the message the players are sharing; who respect the rights of our players and people to voice a strong message and who are working to make us better each day,” he tweeted.
We’re a good city of good people. I heard boos too. But we also have hundreds of thousands more around here who respect the message the players are sharing; who respect the rights of our players and people to voice a strong message and who are working to make us better each day.
— Mayor Q (@QuintonLucasKC) September 11, 2020
Miami Dolphins players said they plan to remain in the locker room for both the national anthem and the Black national anthem before their game against the New England Patriots on Sunday, CNN reports.
Several Dolphins players appeared in a video posted to social media on Thursday, detailing their reasons for sitting out during the anthems.
"If we could just right our wrongs, we wouldn't need two songs," one player said.
"We need changed hearts, not just a response to pressure," another player added.
BREAKING NEWS: The@MiamiDolphins players will stay inside for both national anthems. They express their discontentment with what they call “fluff and empty gestures” by the @NFL
— Jay Williams (@RealJayWilliams) September 10, 2020
Earlier this month, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell announced a slate of planned social justice initiatives and a voter activation push as a response to the civil unrest brewing in the country, per Fox 8.