Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Chiefs make a strong statement in NFL season opener

The Kansas City Chiefs defeated the Houston Texans 34-20 in the NFL season opener on Thursday night at Arrowhead Stadium. In a rematch of the 2019 AFC Divisional round playoff game, Patrick Mahomes threw for over 200 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Chiefs to their first win of the 2020 season. 

Two Kansas City rookies had major impacts on the game. The first-round-pick running back, Clyde Edwards-Helaire, defined his role in one of the NFL’s best offenses. Edwards-Helaire rushed for 138 yards and a touchdown. In the fourth quarter, fourth-round-pick defensive back L’Jarius Sneed intercepted a pass from Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson, dimming the light on any chance of a Houston comeback. 

Overall, the Chiefs picked up right where they left off in Super Bowl LIV. Chris Jones and Frank Clark consistently pressured Watson all night and aided in the Chiefs’ four total sacks. Although there were some mistakes on defense, performances like this should be enough to sustain a Chiefs team that consistently scores 30 plus points per game. If both sides of the ball continue similar levels of play, the Chiefs will find success in a weak AFC West division and should expect another deep playoff run. 

Some could argue the biggest statement of the game happened before kickoff. During the National Anthem, Chiefs players stood with arms linked, while the Houston Texans elected to stay in the locker room during the performance. Both teams took part in a display of unity after the National Anthem. Mahomes and Watson stood on the 50-yard-line and linked arms, while their teammates followed suit beside them to share a moment of silence to speak out against inequality and demand justice for victims of police brutality and racial discrimination. 

The moment was not without controversy. During the live broadcast of the demonstration, many spectators heard what sounded like boos coming from Arrowhead’s stands, though reports from fans in attendance vary. 

The crowd’s apparent dissent toward the silent demonstration became a hot topic on Twitter during the game, prompting UMKC students and local leaders to speak out. 

Former UMKC SGA President Justice Horn wrote on Twitter that he walked out of the game filled with disappointment following the crowd’s response.

“The fact that Kansas Citians, Kansas Citians that live in our community, filled the stadium with boos during the sign of unity by the players and then proceed to doing the Tomahawk chop – I’m done,” wrote Horn. “I’m going home. Words cannot describe how disappointed I am in this city.”

Kansas City Mayor Quinton Lucas addressed the boos, but remained positive that many in KC support the players’ message.

“We’re a good city of good people,” wrote Lucas on Twitter. “I heard boos too. But we also have hundreds of thousands more around here who respect the message the players are sharing; who respect the rights of our players and people to voice a strong message and who are working to make us better each day.” 

Some fans in attendance suggested on social media that the boos were simply a response to the Texans taking the field, which occurred just prior to the demonstration. 

Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes spoke about the demonstration in the post-game press conference. 

“Being down there, [I] honestly didn’t hear a lot of booing,” Mahomes said. “I’ve seen a little bit of the videos. We wanted to show unity and we wanted to show we were going to come together and keep fighting the good fight. I hope our fans will support us like they do on the game every single day.”

Many of the players’ helmets had names of victims of police violence including Breonna Taylor and George Floyd. The end-zones on each side of the field displayed the phrases “It Takes All of Us” and “End Racism” to further emphasize the message the Chiefs and NFL are sending. 

The NFL said each week-one game this season will not only play the National Anthem, but will also feature a performance of the Black National Anthem, “Lift Every Voice and Sing.”

egl9b4@mail.umkc.edu

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