Waking up on Thursday morning I felt like a little kid on Christmas. Although I have always been a huge NBA fan, I have always connected with football more, especially the NFL.
That’s why when I woke up to the opening kickoff of the 2020 NFL season my emotions were running through the roof. Finally, after all this time and navigating through a pandemic ,football is back.
For me, the NFL season has always been an escape from all the things that are happening in my life. And I believe I’m not the only one that feels that way and that’s kind of why it’s taken over baseball as America’s Pastime since the early 2000s.
Since the 2020 NFL draft there have been numerous questions. Will the NFL start on time? Will it eventually be canceled? How many fans will attend, if any at all? How will teams look without a preseason? Will there be protest and or boycotts? The list really goes on and on.
Nonetheless, just like the NFL executives predicted, the NFL opened its 2020 season right on time, with fans, albeit at a limited capacity, as the Kansas City Chiefs began their Super Bowl defense with a home onslaught of Houston.
There were many things to look at including the COVID-19 protocols, pregame, crowd factor, gameplay, and perhaps the newest meme with Andy Reid’s face shield.
Firstly, it was clear as day that all NFL coaches, players and officials were following the coronavirus protocols. Everyone had on on masks and the NFL had even tarped off the first seven rows of the stands to ensure social distancing.
The only protocol that seemed to have some leeway was some postgame interactions. The NFL said they will prohibit opposite teams from having interactions within six feet of each other after games, but it appeared that were some brief handshakes and hugs might be allowed since multiple players did so Thursday night.
Another thing that seemed to go well in my eyes was the home crowd. I had no idea what to expect from the fans attending the game and whether or not they would be a factor. Arrowhead Stadium’s normal capacity for home games is 76,416, which typically results in one of the loudest, if not the loudest stadium to compete in. In fact, back in 2014, Chiefs fans set the Guinness World Record for loudest fans at an outdoor open air stadium. However, on Thursday they were trimmed to 22% capacity, resulting in about 17,000 fans.
Obviously having less fans in attendance will make for less of a home field advantage, but at the same time watching the Chiefs game there was no doubt at some points, especially early, the crowd could still be a factor on big down plays. That was evident when the Chiefs went on a 31-0 run after the Texans scored the first touchdown to win 34-20.
Furthermore, the crowd became very noticeable right before kickoff. Both the Chiefs and Texans stood together and locked arms on the field for a moment of unity. Surprisingly, in today’s climate, a noticeable portion of the home crowd felt compelled to boo. It was definitely an ugly look.
At the same time some people suspected the home crowd was booing the Texans as some players were late getting onto the field during the moment of unity. Additionally, they also chose to not be on the field as a team for the national anthem nor the rendition of “Lift Every Voice and Sing” in comparison to the Chiefs. who were present for both.
As for the game itself, it went more smoothly than I expected. Both offenses came out of the gate and scored on their second possessions of the contest. There weren’t many missed throws or tackles like people, myself included, thought there would be due to not having a preseason.
Both teams managed to put up at least 20 points by the end of it, making for an explosive opening night of football. Not to mention Chiefs rookie running back Clyde Edwards-Helaire solidified himself as someone to reckon with, totaling 138 yards and a touchdown on 25 carries.
Last but not least, perhaps the funniest moment of the game was seeing Chiefs head coach Andy Reid wearing his plastic face shield. It got routinely fogged up due to Reid’s heavy breathing which made you really feel for the self-proclaimed cheeseburger lover. You wanted to just reach through the television screen and wipe the fog off.