Before kick-off of the first game of the 2020 NFL season between the Kansas City Chiefs and the Houston Texans on Thursday, both teams reunited for a moment of unity as league players continue to emphasize the pursuit of racial justice.
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However, fans started booing when the players and coaches stood arm in arm the length of the pitch and the public speech announcer called for “a moment of silence to support racial equality in our country”, with the two teams linked by Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson. Most of the nearly 16,000 in attendance cheered as the moment ended and the teams returned to their margins. Some whistled as the squads lined up in units.
Defensive end of Houston J.J. Watt, who was next to Watson, found the negative aspect of the crowd’s reaction confused.
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“The moment of unity that I personally thought was good,” Watt said, via NFL Network, after a 34-20 defeat in Houston. “I mean the boos at that moment were unfortunate. I don’t completely understand that. There was no flag involved. There was nothing else involved except two teams coming together to show unity.”
The gesture came after the Texans stayed in the locker room for the national anthem and “Lift Every Voice And Sing”. The leaders were on the pitch for the songs, and the defensive side Alex Okafor knelt with his right fist in the air.
Both coaches, Andy Reid of the Chiefs and Bill O’Brien of the Texans, said they didn’t notice the boos.
“A locker room is a very diverse place,” Watt said. “There are people from different backgrounds, there are people from different situations. I have been very lucky to be a part of many locker rooms all my life. In this locker room, we have had more conversations than we have ever had. Never had any arguments. to talk to could be uncomfortable. Maybe people have never opened these conversations. “
Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began peacefully protesting police brutality and racism in 2016 by kneeling down during the anthem. Initially ostracized, he was heralded as a hero by a league that hasn’t offered him a job in years.
“For me, I’ve learned a lot,” Watt said. “I have been educated a lot. It has been a really growing experience for our team, and I think we have come very close for that. The friendships and relationships in this locker room will last a lifetime.”
Follow Chris Bumbaca on Twitter @BOOMbaca.
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Texans’ J.J. Watt whistles during the moment of union with the bosses: “I don’t fully understand”