The NFL has been having an image crisis recently in terms of how they have responded to various players’ domestic and child abuse allegations. Now, the NFL has admitted that officials were wrong to penalize Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah for going to his knees and saying a prayer after he scored a touchdown in Monday’s win over the New England Patriots.
“Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct following his fourth quarter touchdown,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora wrote in an email to USA TODAY Sports.
“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 will not be fined, Signora said.
Abdullah, a Muslim who sat out the 2012 season to go on a pilgrimage, told reporters after the game he believed he was flagged for first sliding to his knees – not performing the Sajdah, a religious prostration. But the NFL moved quickly to clarify the situation.
Going to the ground in celebration is forbidden by NFL rules unless the player is praying. Former Denver Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow, among other Christian players, have made it a regular part of the game.
It’s great that the NFL responded swiftly and appropriately to this situation and demonstrated religious tolerance.
— Mo Keita (@mohkeit) September 30, 2014