As the 2020 NFL season kicked off with Chiefs v. Texans, many fans had their eyes on what players decided to do during the National Anthem. Following recent controversy on the matter, the decision to kneel or stand has been the center of plenty of discussions. The NFL’s policy on the National Anthem gives players the choice to remain in the locker room if they decide not to stand.
The Texans chose to remain in the locker room during both “The Star-Spangled Banner” and the Black national anthem. The Chiefs remained on the sidelines for both anthems, with most players standing.
The National Anthem was performed by Grammy-nominated duo, Chloe x Halle. Both women wore airbrush t-shirts with George Floyd and Breonna Taylor’s faces and names.
Texans’ safety Michael Thomas explains to ESPN the team’s decision as a symbol of solidarity to emphasize the systemic changes that need to occur. “It wasn’t about anthem protests or anything,” he says, making their intentions are clear: “trying to fight for true justice for Black and brown people.” He adds, “Today, going out for either anthem — to us, it would’ve been a distraction,”
Thomas adds that they “didn’t want anything that was divisive,” speaking on the team’s decision to remain inside for the Black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.”
As for the winning team, the Chiefs decided to remain on the sidelines. Most Chiefs players, including star Patrick Mahomes, stood for the anthem. Though, Alex Okafor knelt with his fist in the air during the National Anthem. His teammates beside him placed their hands on his shoulder as he knelt.
Last night’s game ended with the Chiefs winning by 14. The teams also engaged in a ‘moment of unity‘ that went viral following reports of audible booing from game attendees.