Updated 03:00 PM EST, Fri, Dec 04, 2020

Husain Abdullah: NFL Says Chiefs Safety Should Not Have Been Penalized for Praying

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The NFL was quick to say that it was a mistake on their part slapping Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah with a penalty after he went on the ground and chanted a Muslim prayer a few seconds after scoring a touchdown during their game against the New England Patriots on Monday night.

Abdullah, according to Yahoo Sports, was given a 15-yard penalty but this was immediately retracted the morning after by the NFL who cleared that players are not given the permission to celebrate on the ground but religious expression are exempted from the said rule.

NFL spokesperson Michael Signora told USA Today that the penalty was not appropriate.

"Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct following his fourth quarter touchdown. Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d) states '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," Signora added.

The New York Times said that this rule was started in 2008 when wide receiver Terrell Owens was penalized for taking a sprinter's crouch when he scored a touchdown. The NFL supervisor at that time said that players should always stay on their feet except when dropping to their knees and pray noting that he "does not want to get struck by lightning."

For his part, Abdullah said he thought he was slapped with the penalty because he slid after getting into the end zone. "I don't think it was because of the actual prostration that I got the penalty. I think it was because of the slide."

In an ESPN article, the Chiefs safety explained that he bowed his head and went down on the ground to "prostrate before God in the end zone." The former Minnesota Vikings player is known to be a devout Muslim who took a pilgrimage to Mecca in 2011 after he left the team.

"When you go to Mecca, you should have the privilege to slide anywhere you want to slide. We have two priests in here. I think they will vouch for me," he added.

The incident was, of course, picked up by social media and was widely discussed by the netizens. BBC said that the online world pointed our that several Christian players also celebrate their touchdowns with their own religious expressions.

The advocacy group Council on American-Islamic Relations, according to BBC, has already called the NFL to explain why they had to give Abdullah the penalty.

"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," group spokesperson Ibrahim Hooper added.

Abdullah, according to ESPN, is currently on his second year with the Chiefs which he joined after resting for an entire season.

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