Background: KANSAS CITY, MISSOURI - SEPTEMBER 10: Members of the Kansas City Chiefs stand for the national anthem before the start of a game against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium on September 10, 2020 in Kansas City, Missouri.
This is an opinion piece.
I was happy to see the vast majority of Kansas City Chiefs standing in solidarity during the singing of Thursday night’s national anthem and the “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing” spiritual.
Conversely, to see the Houston Texans’ sidelines empty during the anthems was a stunning and, in my opinion, enigmatic juxtaposition.
Texans’ safety Michael Thomas justified the team’s decision to stay in the locker room during the anthems by saying “we didn’t want anything that was divisive.”
“We wanted to make a decision that everybody can agree upon, everybody can support. And it was really just making a decision that we were done with empty gestures. It wasn’t about anthem protests or anything. We are very intentional; we are very specific of what we’re trying to focus on when it comes to social justice — and that’s trying to fight for true justice for Black and brown people being murdered by police and they’re unarmed. And that’s by calling for the Senate to bring the George Floyd Justice in Policing Act to the Senate floor for vote.
“And today, going out for either anthem — to us, it would’ve been a distraction. And we just wanted to, again, make a decision as a team, and we decided it would probably be best if we all stayed in. And that’s the decision we made, and we were just going to go out there and play.”
Saying this after the game was, in my opinion, an anti-climatic after-thought. Over 20 millions American viewers were sitting before their TV sets wondering why the Texans had “opted out.”
You said, Michael Thomas, that the Texans are fed up with “empty gestures”—-but isn’t an empty sideline the epitome of an empty gesture?
It is therefore no wonder to me (at least) why some Chiefs fans booed when the Texans locked arms with the Chiefs at midfield—-because in their opinion (I can imagine) the Texans didn’t deserve to lock arms on the mid-field stage at with the Chiefs on the KC arrowhead logo after being a no-show for the anthems.
Michael Thomas also said that the Texans didn’t want to be accused of doing any thing “divisive.”
Well, when the Chiefs show up for the anthems and you don’t, that isn’t exactly a unifying gesture, is it?
The NFLPA and the coaches need to do what the country has failed to do during the pandemic—-they need to draw up and adhere to a unified plan.
The more visible that plan is—-the better.
It should be as visible as the Minneapolis police officer’s knee on George Floyd’s neck or the handgun the Kenosha police officer fired seven times at point blank range into Jacob Blake’s spinal chord.
Moreover, if the NFLPA is going to honor the millions of peaceful protesters who came out onto the streets during the pandemic to make their cries for racial justice seen and heard, it can’t and shouldn’t do it from behind closed locker room doors.
I think it was a nice surprise that the vast majority of the Chiefs stood for the anthem. Largely because the symbolism of dropping a knee has now taken on an added pall.
Therefore, it would be very meaningful, poignant and wise for the players and coaches of both teams to meet at midfield and lock arms during the anthems. That would be a bold and inspirational statement of unity.
Then let’s see who is booing.
Stand, lock arms and deliver as one, NFLPA.
Show America what true unity looks like—-at a time when America needs it the most.