NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — This is one penalty the NFL wants to have back.
Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct Monday night after returning a Tom Brady interception for a touchdown, sliding to his knees in prayer in the end zone.
League rules prohibit players from “engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground.” But there are exceptions — apparently unwritten — for expressions of faith, such as Tim Tebow dropping to one knee.
“Given the tolerance the league has shown for other religious celebrations, there should be no difference, and there should be an apology on the way,” Darin Gantt of ProFootballTalk.com wrote Tuesday morning.
The flag was a hot topic on Twitter, where Abdullah’s agent vowed to fight any potential fine. Michael Signora, the league’s vice president of football communications, tweeted Tuesday that Abdullah “should not have been penalized.”
“Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons,” Signora wrote.
Abdullah said he spoke with Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who explained the flag likely came for the slide, not the prayer after the pick-six.
“Stop before you drop,” Abdullah said.
But Reid wasn’t convinced that a flag was warranted.
“When you go to Mecca, you should be able to slide wherever you want,” Reid said of Abdullah, who took the entire 2012 season off to make a pilgrimage to the holy city.
“We’ve got two priests in here,” he added. “They’d probably vouch for me.”
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