NFL admits mistake in penalizing Muslim player for post-touchdown prayer

October 1, 2014
(Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Husain Abdullah (39) returns an interception for a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders during the second half at Arrowhead Stadium. The Chiefs won 24-7. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

(Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Husain Abdullah (39) plays against the Oakland Raiders in Kansas City on Oct. 13, 2013. Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports)

The National Football League admitted on Tuesday that Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for sliding on his knees and bowing in prayer after scoring a touchdown.

Abdullah, a devout Muslim, was slapped with a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty after his touchdown during the Chiefs’ 41-14 rout of the New England Patriots on Monday night.

NFL spokesman Michael Signora said players are not allowed to celebrate while on the ground but this was different.

“Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct following his fourth quarter touchdown,” Signora said in an e-mail to Reuters on Tuesday.

“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,” he added.

Abdullah, who scored during a 39-yard interception return in the fourth quarter, had said he believed he was penalized for the slide prior to his prayer.

“I just got a little too excited,” Abdullah told reporters after the game. “I think it was for the slide.”

Abduallah slid on his knees for several yards before touching his head to the ground at the back of the end zone.

via NFL admits mistake in penalizing player for post-touchdown prayer | Reuters.

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