The NFL — already under fire for domestic violence issues related to players — may now face a First Amendment brouhaha after referees in the Kansas City-New England Monday night matchup flagged the Chief’s Husain Abdullah for his celebratory endzone behavior.
Mr. Abdullah, a known devout Muslim, intercepted a pass from the Patriots’ Tom Brady and ran it for a touchdown — then slid to his knees and bent over to touch his head to ground, Muslim prayer style.
His team was then flagged 15 yards for unsportsmanlike conduct.
Mr. Abdullah told reporters after the game that the penalty was due to his sliding, rather than his prayer.
But social media users weighed in, pointing to others who’ve prayed on the field — like Tim Tebow, who started the now-famous “Tebowing” trend — without penalty.
Mike Pereira, a former NFL executive in charge of officiating, tweeted last year that “you’re not penalized for going to the ground to give praise after a TD.”
The NFL later issued a statement saying Mr. Abdullah “should not have been penalized.”
Mr. Abdullah, meanwhile, calls it a lesson learned.
“Stop before you drop,” he said, The Associated Press reported.