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Muslim Abdullah's Prayer Shouldn't Have Been Flagged: NFL

After an interception return for a touchdown on "Monday Night Football," Chiefs cornerback Husain Abdullah knelt in the end zone and was flagged.
Posted at 1:17 PM, Sep 30, 2014

Oh, the storylines that could've come out of "Monday Night Football" in Kansas City. One franchise making a statement win on national television, another receiving perhaps too-soon predictions of its demise, even the record for the loudest stadium in the world was an option for those ready to write about NFL's premiere Week 4 game.

But no. The cleanup surrounding Arrowhead Stadium after Monday night had nothing to do with the tailgating Kansas City's fans are known for.

Instead, a flag following this pick-6 touchdown by Chiefs cornerback Husain Abdullah is getting much more of the attention. After the TD, Abdullah — a Muslim — slid to the back of the end zone and knelt in prayer — earning him a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.

Cue the Twitter outrage, cue the headlines wondering what the heck is going on, cue the declarations of yet another in a seemingly never-ending string of controversies for the NFL.

After all, the league has innumerable examples of Christian players praying in celebration from average games to Super Bowls to quarterback Tim Tebow, who somehow renamed the act of praying after himself as he knelt on sidelines and in game action.

According to league rules, touchdown-celebration penalties fall under "taunting." The rules state, "Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground."

But players generally aren't penalized unless they celebrate as a group or — a new rule this year — they dunk the football over the goal posts.

The NFL's former VP of officiating Mike Pereira once even said he wouldn't flag a player for praying after a touchdown "because I do not want to be struck by lightning."

Abdullah was gracious following the game, saying he believed the flag was for sliding into the prayer and not the prayer itself.

HUSAIN ABDULLAH ON ESPN: "I got a little too excited. I was like, 'If I get a pick, I'm going to prostrate before God,' and for me — I just got a little too excited. I think it was for the slide."

Perhaps trying to right a wrong or perhaps trying to defuse another PR headache, the NFL apologized Tuesday.

The league's VP of communications released a statement on Twitter, and the league posted an article explaining referees should not flag a player for going to the ground "for religious reasons."

This video includes images from Getty Images.