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NFL flags self for penalty on Muslim prayer

NFL flags self for penalty on Muslim prayer

ESPN’s reports:

Husain Abdullah should not have received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty after dropping to his knees and bowing in prayer following a 39-yard interception return for a touchdown during the Kansas City Chiefs’ 41-14 victory over the New England Patriots on Monday night, the NFL said Tuesday.

According to Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d), “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,” NFL spokesman Michael Signora said.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) had asked for the NFL to clarify it’s policy on the penalty for Muslim prayer:

“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,” said CAIR National Communications Director Ibrahim Hooper.

Kansas City’s coach, Andy Reid, defended his player’s action.

Husain Abdullah commented on Twitter, thanking God and his fans:

Many people on social media platforms commented on the apparent double standard between Abdullah and Tim Tebow, whose overt Christian displays made news during his run with the Denver Broncos. Jesse Jackson shifted to this topic while preparing for a three-day meeting of his Rainbow/PUSH organization in Atlanta (according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution):

“This kid playing against New England gave a brief and private, dignified prayer and he was penalized for it. Tim Tebow became an icon of prayer in the end zone. Two sets of rules. He became an iconic figure for praying in the end zone. Two sets of rules.”


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Rod Gillis

lol! “Drop kick me Jesus through the goal post of life”.


To provide some nuance here: the issue wasn’t that he went to his knees, and bowed his head to the ground (Muslim prayer position), it’s that he slid to his knees. Abdullah himself has recognized that distinction, and has said that, henceforth, it will be *stop*, drop from standing position, pray. No prob.

JC Fisher

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