Houston Texans players choose not to be on field for national anthem

KANSAS CITY – The Kansas City Chiefs players and coaches stretched across one of the end zones at Arrowhead Stadium during the playing of "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and later took the sideline for the playing of the national anthem. But the Houston Texans players and coaches remained in the locker room for the song also known as the Black national anthem and for "The Star-Spangled Banner."

In an attempt to show their support for players fighting for racial equality and social justice, the NFL announced that it would play both "Lift Every Voice and Sing" and The Star-Spangled Banner before games this season.

However, the Texans players had discussed staging a protest during both anthems in an attempt to continue to draw attention to the ongoing problems of police brutality against people of color and systemic oppression.

It turned out that protest involved not taking the field for either anthem.

The Kansas City Chiefs stand on the goal line before the game against the Houston Texans at Arrowhead Stadium. (Photo: Denny Medley, USA TODAY Sports)

A brief video highlighting the Black struggle from slavery to the civil rights movement played on the two video boards on each end of the stadium, then a video of Alicia Keys singing "Lift Every Voice and Sing" played on the video boards.

Immediately after the song ended, the Chiefs jogged off the field. After a break and the setting up of a giant Lombardi Trophy on the field, owner Clark Hunt addressed the fans. Immediately after the unveiling of the team’s Super Bowl banner, Chiefs players ran onto the field. The Texans did not, however.

Kansas City’s players stood on the sideline for the playing of the national anthem, although Chiefs defensive end Alex Okafor took a knee, the lone player to do so. Once the anthem had finished, the Texans ran onto the field, and then both teams came together at the center of the field for what the public address announcer called“a moment of silence to support racial equality in our country.” Some of the approximately 16,000 fans in attendance booed as “Black Lives Matter” was shown on the video boards. But most fans complied and cheered once the tribute ended and players returned to their sidelines.

Follow USA TODAY Sports’ Mike Jones on Twitter @ByMikeJones and listen to the Football Jones podcast on iTunes.

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