KANSAS CITY (NEXSTAR) — An NFL season amid a pandemic kicks off Thursday with the defending Super Bowl champion Kansas City Chiefs facing the Houston Texans before about 17,000 fans at Arrowhead Stadium. One of the big storylines to watch will be whether superstar players like Kansas City quarterback Patrick Mahomes and Houston’s J.J. Watt will kneel during the national athem.
Head coaches Andy Reid and Bill O’Brien both were asked whether their teams plan to kneel Thursday night. Neither coach disclosed their team’s plans.
“There will definitely be conversations leading up to the game,” Watt said, “whether it’s within our team alone or with the Chiefs. However it may be, to make sure that whatever everybody does, we’re on the same page.”
“We’ll do something in unison to show support for everybody out there that doesn’t have the platform we have,” Mahomes said.
The league plans to play “Lift Every Voice And Sing,” which is widely considered the Black national anthem, along with “The Star-Spangled Banner” before games this season as it recognizes social justice initiatives across the country.
Earlier this year, the NFL admitted it was wrong and said it now supports Colin Kaepernick in his fight against racial injustice, opening the door for players to take a stand or a knee for the cause.
This season, NFL end zones will be inscribed this season with two slogans: “It Takes All Of Us” on one side, “End Racism” on the other. As part of its social justice awareness initiatives, the NFL also will allow similar visuals on helmets and caps. Those new efforts will debut during tonight’s NFL kickoff game.
In their last meeting, the Chiefs rallied from a 24-0 hole to beat Houston in the divisional round of the playoffs, but both teams have changed plenty in the eight months since that January day.
The game features two teams intimately familiar with each other, and each led by dynamic quarterbacks in the Chiefs’ Mahomes and the Texans’ Deshaun Watson.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.