NFL players pay tribute to victims of Las Vegas massacre

Updated October 3, 2017 - 12:13 am

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The Redskins and Chiefs stood for a moment of silence before the national anthem, and flags flew at half-staff over Arrowhead Stadium, to honor victims of the Las Vegas shooting before Monday night’s game between Washington and Kansas City.

Members of the Redskins remained standing on their sideline, arms locked in unity, as the Kansas City Symphony performed the anthem. Everybody on the Chiefs sideline also remained standing except for cornerback Marcus Peters and linebacker Ukeme Eligwe, who sat stoically on the bench.

Chiefs linebacker Justin Houston knelt in prayer before standing for the rest of the rendition.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the people of Las Vegas,” Chiefs coach Andy Reid said. “That’s a tough deal, kind of overrides the football part of it, but we were thinking about you.”

Dozens of players and teams took to social media earlier in the day to express condolences to those affected by the tragedy. The Chiefs joined in the outpouring, tweeting that “Our thoughts and prayers are with the victims and all those affected by the tragedy in Las Vegas.”

The deadliest shooting in modern U.S. history Sunday night left at least 59 concertgoers dead and more than 500 injured. It also caused ESPN, which broadcasts Monday night games, to reverse its plans and show the national anthem on television before the game.

ESPN shows the anthem on rare occasions, such as the season’s first Monday night game, which fell on the anniversary of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. But after it aired the anthem before last week’s Cowboys-Cardinals game following league-wide protests among players, spurred on by the critical comments of President Trump, it had planned to skip its broadcast Monday night.

The electricity inside Arrowhead Stadium was evident even during warmups, when the Chiefs’ Terrance Mitchell and Redskins cornerback Josh Norman were among those involved in a brief scuffle at midfield.

Three members of the Army’s special operations parachute demonstration team, the Black Daggers, dropped into the stadium about 30 minutes before kickoff, while All-Star catcher Salvador Perez of the Kansas City Royals banged the ceremonial drum in the end zone a few minutes later.

But it was the moment of silence that brought everything into perspective.

Authorities were still searching for a motive behind the shooting at a country music concert in Las Vegas, where a crowd of 22,000 was watching Jason Aldean perform. The gunman, identified as 64-year-old Stephen Paddock, killed himself before officers stormed his hotel room at the Mandalay Bay.

The big screens at each end of Arrowhead Stadium displayed a black-and-white picture of the Las Vegas skyline, and the simple words: “Pray for Las Vegas.”

“Your heart goes out for these people,” Reid said. “For one crazy person doing what he did, it’s ridiculous. But it happened. And there’s a lot of people that have to deal with this. It’s a sad deal.”

When the anthem played, the Redskins continued their practice of locking arms that they started last week against Oakland. But this time, rather than some taking a knee, they all stood at attention.

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