Chiefs Safety Husain Abdullah Penalized For Post-touchdown Prayer

Chiefs Safety Husain Abdullah Penalized For Post-touchdown Prayer
by Chris Strauss
Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after punctuating his 39-yard interception return for a touchdown with the following gesture in the fourth quarter of Monday nights 41-14 win over the New England Patriots.

The refs flagged the 29-year-old veteran for dropping to his knees after the play, technically a violation of the league's celebration rules. But it was rather apparent that Abdullah, a devout Muslim, was practicing the Sajdah, a religious prayer.

As former NFL referee Mike Pereira pointed out last season, going to ones knees to give praise is exempt from that enforcement.

Abdullah's agent, CJ LaBoy, reacted to the penalty call on Twitter shortly after.

In a season where the NFL has faced an unprecedented amount of scrutiny for their reaction to social issues, accusations of a double standard when it comes to religious expression will certainly be unwelcome.

The easy comparison to make in this case will be Tim Tebow's "Tebowing" gesture, which not only was not penalized, but became a highly embraced phenomenon during the 2011 season.

Abdullah has been just as outspoken in his Muslim faith as Tebow has in his Christianity, walking away from the game for the entire 2012 season to take a spiritual pilgrimmage to Mecca with his brother Hamza, a fellow NFL player.

While social media is already full of accusations claiming a more diabolical double standard in penalizing Abdullah for his prayer, it's equally possible that the referees saw him drop to his knees and threw the flag before recognizing what his intentions were.

The best thing the league could do is put out a definitive statement first thing Tuesday admitting that he shouldnt have been flagged and that the officials made a mistake.

Update: The NFL did exactly that, as NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora tweeted the following Tuesday morning.

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