Speed Reads

NFL WTF

Football referees penalize Muslim player for post-touchdown prayer

In yet another controversy for the NFL, during Monday night's Kansas City Chiefs–New England Patriots game, Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was given a 15-yard penalty by the referees — after he briefly bowed down upon the ground for what appears to be a traditional Muslim prayer after he scored a touchdown.

League rules officially ban post-touchdown celebrations as unsportsmanlike conduct. But as USA Today explains, the NFL has given an exemption for acts of prayer — there were certainly never any flags thrown when Tim Tebow kneeled down and prayed as a devout Christian, for example.

The best-case explanation here is that with Abdullah's gesture happening so quickly, the referees might not have immediately recognized it as a Muslim prayer, even though Abdullah is outspoken about his Muslim faith. In any case, as USA Today's Chris Strauss points out: "The best thing the league could do is put out a definitive statement first thing Tuesday admitting that he shouldn't have been flagged and that the officials made a mistake."

The penalty didn't stop Kansas City from clobbering the Patriots, 41-14. --Eric Kleefeld