By Frank Schwab
The NFL wasted no time admitting a mistake in penalizing Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah, who went to the ground in Muslim prayer after scoring a touchdown against the Patriots.
Abdullah’s touchdown, celebration and ensuing 15-yard penalty happened on Monday night, and by Tuesday morning the NFL was making sure the controversy didn’t spread any further than it has, releasing a statement that the penalty was a mistake. Players are not allowed to go to the ground to celebrate, but NFL spokesman Michael Signora told USA Today’s Tom Pelissero that religious expression is not included in that rule.
“Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct following his fourth quarter touchdown,” Signora said in an email to USA Today.
“Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d) states ‘players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground.’ However, the officiating mechanic in this situation is not to flag a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression, and as a result, there should have been no penalty on the play.”
Abdullah tried deflecting attention from the situation after the game by saying that he thought he was penalized for sliding after getting into the end zone, but the NFL’s admission of error makes it clear that wasn’t the case. Christian players for many years have gone to the ground to pray after touchdowns, even after the NFL passed its rule outlawing players going to the ground during touchdown celebrations. Very few of those prayers were penalized, so it was strange when a Muslim player was penalized.
The NFL has admitted it was a mistake. The league probably hopes that ends the potential controversy.
One question though, how come it’s ok for Christian players to knell and pray (Like Tim Tebow) and it wasn’t okay for Abdullah to do the same thing?