On Monday Night Football, referees penalized Husain Abdullah for sliding on his knees in the end zone. By Tuesday morning, the excessive celebration penalty became a punished-for-praying flag.
The Kansas City Chiefs safety glided on two knees in the end zone after a 39-yard pick six of a Tom Brady pass. The referee verbally indicated that he meted out the penalty for “going to the ground.” Eagles coach Andy Reid understood the flag flew because of the slide. Even the penalized player conceded the sanction stemmed from dropping to his knees in celebration. “For me, I just got a little too excited,” Abdullah told the press after the game. “I think it was for the slide.”
Rather than stick by their referee, the NFL has bowed to global criticism and publicly contradicted the correct call on the field.
Abdullah should not have been penalized. Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons.
— Michael Signora (@NFLfootballinfo) September 30, 2014
Twittericans across the planet jumped on the pile, ignoring the demonstrative celebration and concentrating on the subdued prayer that followed as proof of hypocrisy and discrimination.
Tim Tebow almost had religious services on the football field and no one said a thing. I can’t support the NFL. NO FUN LEAGUE @HAbdullah39
— Chris Rock (@ozchrisrock) September 30, 2014
— David Cornwell (@wmdavidcornwell) September 30, 2014
Acceptable to the NFL: Child abuse, domestic violenceUnacceptable: Praying while Muslim#HusainAbdullah
— Zaid Jilani (@ZaidJilani) September 30, 2014
After sliding across the endzone on his knees, Abdullah performed a kneeling salaam. The referee did not cite the bowing motion in assessing the penalty.
The Chiefs dominated the primetime matchup 41-14. Abdullah dominated the news cycle that followed.