The 2020 NFL season is underway with defending champion Kansas City hosting Houston in a rematch of last year’s Divisional Round epic that saw the Chiefs overcome a 24-point, first-half deficit en route to a resounding victory. Obviously, much has changed since then with Kansas City limiting fan attendance to about 16,000 (22-percent capacity) amid the COVID pandemic. Arrowhead Stadium and TIAA Bank Field in Jacksonville will be the only NFL venues to host spectators in Week 1. Here’s what a socially distanced opening night looks like including Chiefs coach Andy Reid sporting the face shield he uses for his side hustle as a part-time welder.
Only a few weeks removed from the Jacob Blake tragedy in Wisconsin, the latest in a string of police shootings that have drastically altered our social climate, many wondered how players and coaches would show their support for the Black Lives Matter movement on Thursday night. While the Chiefs remained on the field for both national anthems, the visiting Texans retreated to the locker room before resurfacing for a “moment of unity” just prior to kickoff. Both teams locked arms at midfield as a sign of solidarity, a gesture that drew mixed responses from the crowd with some booing and others applauding.
Defensive end Alex Okafor was the lone Chief to kneel during the anthem, raising his fist while teammates Chris Jones and Khalen Saunders put a hand on his shoulder.
The Texans won’t be alone in sitting out the national anthem this weekend as the Dolphins announced similar plans Thursday in a powerful video posted to Twitter.
Much of NBC’s pregame coverage was devoted to talk of race and social justice with host Mike Tirico leading the discussion alongside studio analysts Tony Dungy, Rodney Harrison and Chris Simms. Play-by-play announcer Al Michaels and longtime broadcast partner Cris Collinsworth also addressed these issues in the lead-up to Thursday’s 8:25 PM ET kickoff.
On a lighter note, Chiefs receiver Mecole Hardman, who garnered All-Pro status as a return specialist in 2019, arrived to Thursday’s proceedings wearing … well whatever this is.
So far it’s been a good night for fantasy owners of Travis Kelce and David Johnson, who have both scored early touchdowns for the Chiefs and Texans respectively.