And they’re off!
The 2020-2021 NFL season has officially begun, and scores of football fans couldn’t be more excited.
Well … maybe some fans could be more excited.
The inaugural game of the new NFL season has begun with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Houston Texans, but somehow, even before a single second of actual on-field play occurred, there already appeared to be controversy afoot.
First, the Chiefs revealed social justice messages — “End Racism” and “It Takes All of Us” — that were prominently featured in their stadium’s end zones:
A look at Kansas City’s end zones for Week 1 pic.twitter.com/Tn9AAu1Aui
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 10, 2020
Perhaps more controversially, the Chiefs and Texans each partook in their own respective form of protest during the playing of the national anthem.
The Texans opted not to come out for the national anthem at all. They instead chose to stay in the locker room during the playing of “The Star-Spangled Banner.” When they did come out, there were audible boos.
Several Chiefs players, including the reigning Super Bowl MVP Patrick Mahomes, linked arms. One Chiefs player, Alex Okafor, knelt during the anthem and raised his right fist.
Chiefs Alex Okafor only player who took a knee during the anthem pic.twitter.com/SwQsuF4RS3
— gifdsports (@gifdsports) September 11, 2020
— Curtis Houck (@CurtisHouck) September 11, 2020
Further adding to the controversial pregame ceremonies, the Chiefs and Texans chose to have a “moment of silence” for the sake of equality. And yes, that very much sounds like booing in the background during this demonstration.
— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2020
Speaking of pregame ceremonies, COVID-19 restrictions made them strange enough with or without the social justice demonstrations.
The national anthem was prerecorded, instead of being sung live as it usually is before NFL games.
— NFL (@NFL) September 11, 2020
Singers Chloe x Halle wore shirts very clearly featuring George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.
Alicia Keys sang “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” sometimes referred to as the “black national anthem.”
And it was obviously jarring to see the vastly reduced capacity of fans, all required to masks, not unlike Chiefs head coach Andy Reid.
— Hogg (@HoggNFL) September 11, 2020
Of course, the NFL is hardly the only major sports league to dive headfirst into the social justice arena.
— JeffGSpursZone (@JeffGSpursZone) August 1, 2020
Major League Baseball, while not nearly in as widespread a manner as the NBA, has featured its fair share of kneeling and other protests:
Today, and every day, we come together as brothers. As equals, all with the same goal – to level the playing field. To change the injustices. Equality is not just a word. It’s our right!
Today we stand as men from 25 nations on 6 continents.
Today, we are one. pic.twitter.com/vKUGdRfwgQ
— MLB (@MLB) July 23, 2020
The NFL very clearly has the support of its fellow sports leagues when it comes to social justice protests.
But will the audience support it?
That’s a completely different matter.
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