Kansas City Chiefs fans booed the reigning Super Bowl champions and the Houston Texans as the two teams lined up for a “moment of unity” ahead of Thursday’s NFL season-opener at Arrowhead Stadium.
Scattered booing could be clearly heard coming from sections of the reduced-capacity 17,000 crowd allowed into the game as players from both the Chiefs and Texans linked arms for the pre-game gesture near halfway.
Before the ritual, both teams had taken contrasting approaches to the playing of the US national anthem and a rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” a song regarded as the black national anthem.
Texans players remained in their locker room for both anthems while the Chiefs players stood on the field.
One Chiefs player, defensive end Alex Okafor, dropped to one knee during the playing of the US national anthem.
Taking a knee during the US national anthem was a protest gesture started by former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in 2016.
Kaepernick was widely vilified for his protests against racial injustice and police brutality, and has effectively been shut out of the NFL since being released by the 49ers in 2017.
The NFL initially opposed Kaepernick’s protests, with league commissioner Roger Goodell saying players should stand for the US anthem.
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