The Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans attempted to show a moment of unity before Thursday’s NFL season opener, but boos could be apparently heard coming from the crowd at Arrowhead Stadium in Missouri.
Before the ritual, the Texans remained in the locker for the U.S. national anthem and the song, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which some have termed the “black national anthem.”
The Chiefs players, meanwhile, stood for both songs. Chiefs player Alex Okafor dropped to one knee during the U.S. national anthem.
The boos persisted after teams met to shake hands while messages including “we believe black lives matter” and “it takes all of us” were displayed on screens in the stadium.
“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,” Texans star J.J. Watt told NFL Media after the game.
Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas, a Democrat, attempted to downplay the boos from the reduced-capacity crowd. Reports said that only around 15,000 people attended the game due to the COVID-19 limitations.
“We’re a good city of good people,” Lucas wrote on Twitter. “I heard boos too. But we also have hundreds of thousands more around here who respect the message the players are sharing.”
Black Lives Matter has come under fire in recent weeks after riots, arson incidents, and looting have occurred in a number of U.S. cities following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis.
The Chiefs won the contest 34-20.