Social justice figured to be -- and, in my opinion, deserved to be -- at the forefront of the 2020 NFL season opener on Thursday night between the Chiefs and the Texans.
And there were certainly examples of social justice that have never been seen before in the NFL. Messages displayed in the end zones. Names of victims of police brutality on the backs of helmets. The Chiefs' Alex Okafor kneeling and holding his fist high in the air and the Texans remaining in the locker room for the duration of the National Anthem. A pregame "Moment of Unity" shared by the two teams.
But there were also moments that reminded us why we need these social justice messages and protests. There were fans who decided not to watch the game because of the league's new stance on racism and social justice. There was criticism of Al Michaels and Cris Collinsworth's lack of discussion surrounding the concerns that the league's players have expressed over the past several months.
But the most concerning moment for me was how fans at Arrowhead Stadium booed during the aforementioned "Moment of Unity." While NFL's Twitter account literally called it a moment of silence, anyone with ears can hear that the moment was anything but silent.
It's worth noting that some players/coaches, like Patrick Mahomes and Bill O'Brien, said that they didn't really hear booing during the moment. O'Brien suggested that the fans may have started booing because the Texans came out on the field.
J.J. Watt was one player who was baffled at the fans' decisions to boo. In a postgame interview, he shared his thoughts on the moment, the Texans' decision to remain in the locker room during the anthem, and more (via James Palmer of NFL Network).
"We made a team decision and that's the decision we made as a team and we're all in this thing together. At the end of the day we are all brothers and part of a brotherhood. We had great conversations and we've done a lot of great things. That's the decision we made as a team. The moment of unity I personally thought was good. 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. All in all a locker room is a very diverse place. There are people from all different backgrounds and all different situations. I've been very fortunate to be a part of many locker rooms in my life. In this locker room we've had more conversations than we've ever had about topics that maybe are uncomfortable to talk about abnd maybe people have never opened up about these conversations. For me I've learned a lot. I've been educated a lot. It's really been a growing experience for our team and we've come a lot closer because of it. I have friendships and relationships that will last a lifetime and I'm very fortunate for those and I hope to cultivate them as we go forward."
Geoff Schwartz, whose brother is Chiefs star tackle Mitchell Schwartz, also had something to say to the fans at Arrowhead.
Scott McLaughlin, a coworker of mine at RADIO.COM Sports affiliate WEEI in Boston, shared his thoughts on the boos that rang down from the stands in Kansas City.