By Matt Noonan
Football – well, professional football, to be exact – has officially returned.
And while many may be discussing the Kansas City Chiefs‘ opening day win over the Houston Texans this morning – and yes, throughout the afternoon and evening, too – there seems to be another storyline worth noting that might be a tad bit more important. And that would be the moment of unity, which occurred prior to last night’s kickoff.
Before the initial play of the 2020 National Football League (NFL) was recorded, members of both the Chiefs and Texans met at midfield where coaches and players locked arms to show they are united in the doing their part to assist with bringing an end to racial injustice, which will certainly be a major theme throughout this particular season.
As players locked arms, fans – perhaps not all of them? – booed them for the pregame gesture. And one player – Houston’s J.J. Watt – appeared frustrated by the response, telling members of the media after the contest concluded that the boos were “unfortunate.”
“I don’t fully understand that,” Watt told members of the media, via the team’s YouTube channel. “There was no flag involved. There was nothing involved other than two teams coming together to show unity.”
Watt’s remarks are spot on – we should not boo these coaches and players, but instead adhere to the advice of Kansas City’s coach Andy Reid, who believes “we can all learn from this, and really it’s just to make us all better, even a stronger country than we already are.”
Our country is in turmoil and it is not just because of the ongoing coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic, but too many frequent incidents of racial injustice that are being seen regularly on the nightly news. And for these actions to stop, we must be willing to not just talk about these actions, but also listen to those that can assist all of us with understanding what it is we need to do to move forward.
Similar to Watt, I am mystified why fans elected to boo these coaches and players instead of embrace this powerful stance, but this pregame gesture is just the first of many powerful moments to come. And we need to be respectful to whatever gestures or stances do occur as the 2020 season unfolds.
I am hopeful for better days to come – I am an optimist – but I also believe both listening and talking politely with each other will be the way we move forward.