NFL: Referees should not have penalized Abdullah for Muslim prayer
The NFL said Tuesday that referees should not have penalized Chiefs defensive player Husain Abdullah for his Muslim prayer after he scored a touchdown.
Abdullah took a year off to make a pilgrimage with his brother to Mecca. He had said if he ever scored a touchdown he intended to pray.
Referees penalized Abdullah for going to his knees after he intercepted a Tom Brady pass and ran it back for a touchdown.
After the game, Chiefs coach Andy Reid and Abdullah said they thought he was penalized for going into a slide before the prayer, but Reid said the player wasn’t out of bounds.
“I think when you go to Mecca you should have the privilege of sliding when you want to slide,” Reid said after the game Monday night.
Abdullah’s agent said there would be a problem if the league penalized Abdullah financially when Christian players aren’t penalized for their prayers.
Michael Signora, vice president for the NFL, issued a clarifying statement via Twitter Tuesday morning.
“Abdullah should not have been penalized. Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons,” he wrote.
The penalty sparked outcry, and the NFL was expected to give its blessing this morning. Christians like Tim Tebow have routinely prayed without issue.
The Chiefs routed the Patriots 41-14 at Arrowhead during Monday Night Football. The pumped up fans also reclaimed for Arrowhead the title as the loudest outdoor sporting venue.
Reid was not asked about the issue during his news conference with NFL beat reporters on Tuesday. The Chiefs declined to allow a news reporter for KCTV5 to join the news conference.