KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Calls for racial justice were front and center during pregame activities Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium.
The Chiefs locked arms at the end zone during a video against social justice and police brutality. They also stood together as Alicia Keys sang, “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” commonly known as the Black national anthem.
During the National Anthem, the team stood on the sidelines once more, many of them linked arms again. All but one player, Alex Okafor, stood.
The Texans remained in the locker room during both “Lift Every Voice and Sing” and “The Star Spangled Banner” but came out onto the field for a moment of solidarity afterward.
The two teams joined on the field for a moment of silence in support of racial unity. Some fans at Arrowhead could be heard booing.
During warm ups, Chiefs players wore shirts that said, “Vote.” The words “End Racism” and “It Takes All Of Us” were inscribed in the end zones. The league allowed players to wear similar visuals on their helmets.
Racial justice has been at the forefront of the NFL since Colin Kaepernick began taking a knee to protest systemic racism and police brutality during the 2016 season.
Earlier this year, Patrick Mahomes and Tyrann Mathieu appeared in a video with a dozen other NFL stars to send a message to the league about racial inequality.
The video featured the players opend the video with a statement, ““It’s been 10 days since George Floyd was brutally murdered.” The players then take turns asking the question, “What if I was George Floyd?”
The video continued with the players reciting several names of Black men and women who’ve been killed, including Ahmaud Arbery, Eric Garner, Breonna Taylor and Tamir Rice.
In June, Goodell and the NFL publicly backed the Black Lives Matter movement and admitted to making mistakes in the past.
Appearing on Emmanuel Acho’s ‘Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man,’ Goodell was asked how he would apologize to Kaepernick.
“Well the first thing I’d say is I wish we had listened earlier, Kap, to what you were kneeling about and what you were trying to bring attention to,” Goodell said. “We had invited him in several times to have the conversation, to have the dialogue. I wish we had the benefit of that. We never did.”
For their part, the Chiefs have had their own series of conversations about racism and the use of Native American imagery.
Fans are now prohibited from wearing headdresses into the stadium, and there are some restrictions in place for face paint.
The team said it’s also reviewing the “Arrowhead Chop,” which fans commonly refer to as the “Tomahawk Chop.” But at Thursday night’s game it could be heard in the stadium.