A controversial month for the NFL is concluding on a fitting note, as the league finds itself taking heat this morning after Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was penalized for celebrating his Monday Night Football pick-six on Tom Brady with a prayer in the end zone.
Abdullah, a Viking from 2008 through 2011, is a devout Muslim who actually sat out last season to make a pilgrimage to Mecca. After the game, he downplayed the controversy, but others weren't so charitable to the NFL.
Franken, McFadden slug it out over Minnesota's connections to radical Islam
So the NFL allows Tebowing, but does not allow Abdullah to do a Muslim prayer in the end zone. #Merica
Here's a couple Vine videos of Abdullah's interception, the return, and his prayer:
This seems so simple. Put out a statement: "Ref made a mistake on Abdullah." Whole thing blows over. Why can't the NFL get anything right?-- Barry Petchesky (@barryap1) September 30, 2014
In fairness, the NFL rulebook says "players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground." But as former NFL VP of officiating Mike Pereira pointed out on Twitter last year (and as all the Tebowing we had to live through a few years ago demonstrated), an exception is typically made for players who hit their knees in prayer:
Nonetheless, asked about the penalty after the game, Abdullah said it was "probably because I slid."
you're not penalized for going to the ground to give praise after a TD-- Mike Pereira (@MikePereira) November 25, 2013
"I got a little too excited," he added. "I was like, you know, if I get a pick, I'm going to prostrate before God in the end zone. And I think, for me, I just got a little too excited, so, I think it was because [of the] slide."
This morning, Abdullah posted this photo on Instagram with the caption, "'Subhana Rabbial-'Ala' (Glory be to my Lord The Most High)":The NFL hasn't yet commented on the situation, but Abdullah's agent warned them against going any further:
But given the way the league has handled controversies of late, a stiff suspension wouldn't come as a surprise.
If the NFL tries to fine @HAbdullah39 for his TD celebration there's going to be some problems.-- CJ LaBoy (@CJLaBoy) September 30, 2014
:::: UPDATE ::::
In a statement, the NFL admitted referees shouldn't have penalized Abdullah.
"[T]he 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.
h/t -- Deadspin
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