In the first NFL game of the season on Sept. 10, the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Texans stood together interlocking arms in unity. This was after both teams entered the stadium and the anthem was already played. No flags were raised. However, fans in attendance showered the players with boos.
J.J. Watt, a 5-time Pro Bowler for the Texans, was shocked by the response it emitted from fans.
“The moment of unity I personally thought was good,” Texans defensive end J.J. Watt said according to a CBS News article. “The booing was unfortunate at that moment. 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.”
As one of the leading faces of the Texans, Watt’s opinion goes a long way in the matter at hand. The response from fans left not only Watts and the Texans confused, but players for the Chiefs as well.
“We had a few player meetings and let everybody know that we had their back,” Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce said according to the same article. “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.”
Kelce is arguably the number one tight end in football right now. He was a notable member of the two teams standing midfield with peers and rivals in complete unity.
Matt Dapiran, a junior business marketing major at Montclair State University, is a longtime football fan and was watching the whole moment play out live on television.
“My thoughts are that you need to stand up for what you believe in,” Dapiran said. “We are humans and given that right. So why not use it on [the] platform given to you?”
The Chiefs and Texans game was the first sporting event to host fans since the previous coronavirus pandemic safety restrictions were in order. The NFL also continued to hold moments where they acknowledged the Black Lives Matter movement, something that the NFL has gotten a lot of backlash over in the past for not handling in the right manner.
Last season, there was turmoil in the league and within teams on expressing individuals opinions and political stances. However, this year the NFL now have an anthem for the Black Lives Matter movement along with the national anthem.
While the anthems played during the game, Houston remained in the locker room while the Chiefs were on the field both kneeling and standing.
Elijah Tolbert, a junior computer science major at Montclair State, is a longtime football fan and was impressed with how the NFL handled the situation at hand.
“Seeing the players standing together locked arm-to-arm had me shocked that the NFL finally allowed players to show what they are and what they stand for. They showed unity,” Tolbert said. “It can be interpreted in so many ways, but the fans just didn’t like that the players made a stand for what they believe in.”
Having two teams stand up together for what they believe in was a huge milestone for progress for the Black Lives Matter movement.