of USA Today Sports
Courtesy of USA Today Sports
An NFL player has been penalized for celebrating a touchdown with prayer--seems strange right? Celebratory prayers are not uncommon in the NFL; many Christian players have done so on multiple occasions. They were never penalized and are, in fact, admired for it.
But what if the player is not a Christian?
That question was given an answer when Kansas City Chiefs' Husain Abdullah picked off a throw by Tom Brady and returned the interception with a touchdown. In celebration, he slides onto his knees and, being a devout Muslim, performs an Islamic prayer.
The officiating referee then penalized
him 15 yards for falling to the ground on his knees.
The NFL's rule book prohibits players from celebrating while on the ground, but Arsalan Iftikar , founder of TheMuslimGuy.com, tweeted out that Chicago Bears' Brandon Marshal performed a similar feat but was not penalized, and that Tim Tebow's famous 'Tebowing' also went without any sanctions during his time in the NFL.
NFL spokesman Michael Signora wrote an e-mail last Tuesday (Sept. 23) stating
that “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”, but Abdullah may have broken the rules because of the slide and not due to the prayer itself, something which he attests to.
“For me, I just got a little too excited,” he said. “I think it was for the slide.”
The Council on American-Islamic relations issued a statement last Tuesday urging the NFL to take action on the issue. “To prevent the appearance of a double standard, we urge league officials to clarify the policy on prayer and recognize that the official made a mistake in this case,” Ibrahim Hooper, the spokesman for the organization, said.
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