By: Chris Strauss –
Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah received a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty after punctuating his 39-yard interception return for a touchdown with the following gesture in the fourth quarter of Monday night’s 41-14 win over the New England Patriots.
The refs flagged the 29-year-old veteran for dropping to his knees after the play, technically a violation of the league’s celebration rules. But it was rather apparent that Abdullah, a devout Muslim, was practicing the Sajdah, a religious prayer.
As former NFL referee Mike Pereira pointed out last season, going to one’s knees to give praise is exempt from that enforcement.
Abdullah’s agent, CJ LaBoy, reacted to the penalty call on Twitter shortly after.
In a season where the NFL has faced an unprecedented amount of scrutiny for their reaction to social issues, accusations of a double standard when it comes to religious expression will certainly be unwelcome.
The easy comparison to make in this case will be Tim Tebow’s “Tebowing” gesture, which not only was not penalized, but became a highly embraced phenomenon during the 2011 season.
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