(Headline USA) The National Football League returned Thursday night, and while it wasn’t quite the social justice spectacle many expected, there were still symbols and expressions of protest.
The Kansas City Chiefs lined up along the goal line about 30 minutes before kickoff and watched Alicia Keyes perform “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” which is often considered the black national anthem, in a video designed to address racial inequality.
The Texans had already left the field when the demonstration occurred.
— Andy Scholes (@AndyScholesCNN) September 10, 2020
They remained there until R&B duo Chloe x Halle finished a virtual performance of “The Star-Spangled Banner,” thus skipping out on both “anthems.”
Then the visiting team ran onto the field to a chorus of boos from fans.
Some fans — limited to only 17,000 due to limitations because of the coronavirus — still booed when the teams met at midfield and shook hands.
The teams then stood together in a line that stretched from one end zone to the other for a moment of silence before the coin toss.
“Listen, I didn’t really notice it,” Reid said of the booing. “I thought that was kind of a neat deal, both sides coming together for a cause. The story was told there. Whether it was the national anthems and how those were presented, the singers — Alicia Keyes was phenomenal — and then guys joining hands together for a cause. Really just to make us all better and a stronger country than we all are. We have a chance to be unstoppable when we all come together.”
The NBC pregame show was full of segments and videos promoting activism and social justice efforts.
The phrases “It Takes All Of Us” and “End Racism” were painted behind each end zone.
— NFL (@NFL) September 10, 2020
An NFL video promoting social justice also played on the big screen.
This was the NFL leaning into the promotion of social justice causes just a few years after a kneeling Colin Kaepernick, and heavy criticism from Donald Trump and a segment of fans, had left the league rocked and reeling…
“These are our communities,” Goodell said on the NBC pregame show, clearly supportive of whatever players and coaches come up with. “We live in these communities. We play in these communities. We operate in these communities. And I think we’re all tired and see the things that are going on, the abuses that shouldn’t be happening. It is a time for us to make the changes.
“We aren’t here to make political statements,” Goodell continued. “We are here to make our communities better.”
Associated Press contributed to this report.