Muslim Husain Abdullah flagged for praying in the end zone

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When Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah picked off Tom Brady and returned it for a touchdown, he said a quick prayer.

But unlike Tim Tebow doing the same thing when he got to the end zone, Abdullah was flagged.

The Muslim safety said he made a promise to himself that he’d show his respect if he ever scored.

“If I get a pick, I’m going to prostrate before God in the end zone,” Abdullah said, via Tod Palmer of the Kansas City Star.

Since he was running as he crossed the goal line, he slid through the end zone before bowing to his knees in prayer. He was promptly flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct, a 15-yard penalty.

Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (d) of the NFL rulebook prohibits “Prolonged or excessive celebrations or demonstrations by an individual player. Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground. A celebration or demonstration shall be deemed excessive or prolonged if a player continues to celebrate or demonstrate after a warning from an official.”

Christian players have routinely gone unpenalized while kneeling in prayer, though there is no specific exception in the rulebook.

Abdullah said he thought he was flagged for the sliding portion rather than the prayer, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid wasn’t sure that should be the case.

“When you go to Mecca, you should be able to slide wherever you want,” Reid said. “We’ve got two priests in here. They’d probably vouch for me.”

Given the tolerance the league has shown for other religious celebrations, there should be no difference, and there should be an apology on the way.

148 responses to “Muslim Husain Abdullah flagged for praying in the end zone

  1. DeSean Jackson acts like a little punk after his TD against the Eagles — no flag.

    This guy prays — flag.

    The NFL is stupid.

    And Jackson’s team didn’t even win.

  2. More and more I am finding the NFL just plain distasteful. I did not watch any games this weekend and my life was no worse for it. Wife beaters, racists, child abusers, cover ups, a know-nothing comish, an owner who drunkenly tamper with other players and hangs with strippers in elevators…what, exactly are we getting out of this. They cannot even hit each other anymore.

  3. I hope the league acknowledges the blatant double-standard. When Tebow started praying, it became a thing! Anybody remember tebowing?

    No time to cry wolf but the league office may be playing a dangerous game

  4. That’s the first thing I thought.What’s the difference between sliding then praying or going down on a knee as Tebow would do? Especially as Tebow’s celebrations were slightly longer.

    This is the reason why Goodell and company have to go, not a lying about seeing a tape. League is super inconsistent with its penalties, just like how it is with it’s fines and everything else which is hurting the game.

  5. Here’s a suggestion.. How about scrapping the dumb rule altogether.. It’s just another one of power hungry Goodell’s knee-jerk reaction rules. The NFL is an entertainment business. I do not understand why they are so adamant about taking all the entertainment out of the game, and leaving us with these flagfest boring games.

  6. …and this is why the celebration penalties are stupid. How did we get to the days where you need to thumb through a rule book to see what is a ‘legal’ celebration??

  7. Yes, we’re eagerly awaiting a duck-bob-and-weave response from the Commish about this outlandish behavior.

  8. No. He was flagged for going to the ground celebrating a touchdown which is a penalty.

  9. One’s religion, or beliefs about the role their God plays in their life should be personal and private – other than at their place of worship.

    Don’t need my Dentist dropping to his knees after filling a cavity, or a mechanic praying on my car after a tuneup or new brakes. Don’t need people in the office praying aloud after making a sale or closing a deal or accomplishing any other task that is an expected part of the job.

    Beyond that, I don’t believe a God takes sides in, or cares about the outcome of sporting contests.

  10. The penalty was absurd and should never be called. Unless you’re going to penalize tebowing all the same.

    With that said, I doubt the ref that threw the flag knew or understood what was happening. I doubt it’ll be flagged again.

  11. He was flagged for sliding to his knees, not praying. Nick Collins slid to his knees in Super Bowl XLV and was flagged as well. No apology necessary. Please stop this silliness of manufacturing controversy.

  12. It was the slide that drew the flag. If another player did that then got on a knee and Tebow’d he’d probably get flagged too. It initially looked like a penalty for going to the ground in celebration (which is a dumb rule but that’s not the point). Maybe the refs hold have waited longer to throw the flag, but to say he flagged him for praying its trying to make a big deal out of nothing.

  13. I’d definitely have to agree on this one. Kinda backwards that he gets penalized for praying and Tebow didn’t. Oh but Tebow didn’t go all the way to the ground….Stupid.

  14. Three year old rule clearly says you can’t “go to the ground” during a celebration.

    They told Tebow the same thing when the rule went into effect.

    Not everything has to be controversial.

  15. I am a Jesus follower, don’t believe in Muhammad, and really am not a tolerance flag-waver. That being said, I think the refs got this wrong. To penalize what is essentially a selfless act doesn’t make sense to me. Perhaps it was just the length of the celebration (slide included)? Still is a bummer to get flagged after his first TD.

  16. Since the game sucked and this was late in the 4th Q, I didn’t see it. That said, perhaps the article should mention a) if the official warned him per the rule book and b) how long he was doing his prayer. For Tebow and Marshall, it’s a quick thing.

    Best comparison is the Jared Allen hog tie after sack. He was forced to shorten it.

    Perhaps that was the issue?

  17. There you go. It’s in the Christian clause. You can pray as long as it’s Christian prayer.

    So much for religious freedom. Prolonged? Laughable reasoning.

  18. He did a quick prayer on his knees then got up. How is that excessive celebration? If Christian players are allowed to kneel and say a prayer, a Muslim should also be able to. Just another double-standard by the NFL.

  19. I don’t see a problem with this. The kid took a year off from football with his brother to do a religious pilgrimage. He represents what is positive in the Muslim faith and does it humbly and professionally. If we allow this for one, we should allow it for all.

  20. Wait, I’m confused.

    The article says that, “… (Abdullah) thought he was flagged for the sliding portion rather than the prayer, but Chiefs coach Andy Reid wasn’t sure…”

    So, nobody knows if the flag was for sliding or for praying. But the league owes an apology anyway?

    I certainly not a staunch defender of either the league front office or of Christianity in general, but clamoring for an apology before even knowing the facts seems a bit like….a crusade?

  21. Personally I think if the players are going to pray, go do it on the sidelines regardless of what religion. However, what really needs to happen here is the refs need to learn to keep their darn flags in their pockets. I’m not saying let players get away with everything but the way the flag players now you can’t even make a clean play. It needs to STOP!

  22. All of these guys, Christian, Muslim, Buddhist, whatever, can wait to pray until they get back to the sidelines. I’m sure their God would appreciate an act of humility once in a while.

  23. You claim Tebow did the same thing? When did Tebow get down on both knees to pray when he got to the endzone?

  24. Since Abdullah plays defense and it might be awhile before he’s celebrating another touchdown, the NFL should promptly make clear that either no NFL player is allowed to pray in the end zone, or every NFL player is and the penalty was a mistake (let’s not pretend it was for sliding, given that happens plenty of times in any given week of football).

  25. Wow, in reading this crap, you are implying that the refs were aware of Mr. Abdullah’s religious background and chose to throw the flag for that very reason.

    Color me skeptical, but I don’t think so.

  26. I was wondering about that since I knew he was Muslim. I thought for sure the TV guys would have brought that up but didn’t that I noticed.

    I remember when he would fast at Vikings training camp.

  27. First off i am not a Pats fan. All these rule changes favoring the passing game is ruining the game. How many prime time blowouts must we watch before the league starts evening out the rules again? Designing the rules so heavily in favor of the passing game increases home field advantage to a ridiculous amount (especially for prime time games). When the rules make it nearly impossible to defend the pass, the extra half second the home team o-line and d-line gets plus the ability of the home qb to change calls and protections up until the last second of the play clock, is almost insurmountable. Without being a far superior team or causing a couple of turnovers or freak plays you have no shot.

  28. The idiots refs probably thought that he was making a mocking gesture rather than praying. I can’t imagine that they recognized it for what it was and threw the flag anyway.

  29. God doesn’t watch football since he really doesn’t exist, but don’t let that get in the way of what puts food in your mouth…

  30. The ref didn’t know. If you can’t show me in the rules where it’s the refs job description to know every religious pose then shut up!

  31. No, an apology shouldnt be on the way.

    The sideline is 120 yards long. Pray there all you like. There is no need to kneel in prayer in the end zone. Its a football game, not church.

    I dont care what or who he prays to or when. Just not in the end zone after scoring. If you cant dunk, you sure as heck shouldnt be praying on your knees.

  32. I thought this exact thing when it happened. Christians can do their prayers but Muslims can’t do theirs? NFL is gonna have to fix that and apologize to him and the Chiefs.

  33. I’m quite certain the flag was thrown because Abdullah slid into the end zone on his knees, but regardless, it’s a stupid rule. Let the man slide in or take a knee in the end zone.

  34. Absolutely. There should definitely be an apology. Fostering hate does nothing but breed hate. It is hard to believe in this day and age a referee doesn’t know what he was doing. We need to pay full time referees like all other sports and spend time educating these guys and making them better refs and people. That’s what the NFL needs on top of domestic violence, child abuse and slandering the native population, let’s start a battle over religious intolerance. I can just imagine the ignorant beer drinking american public and what stupid remarks they can come up with on this subject.

  35. I’ve never been elated when Christians celebrated on their knees. Always looked to be drawing attention to one’s self more than giving God credit. I’ve never seen a salesman strike a “Tebow pose” after closing a big deal. You can thank God without showboating. However, fair is fair. They can’t flag a person for being of a different belief system.

  36. Religion has absolutely NOTHING to do with this penalty!

    ANY kind of ‘showboating’ or celebration is deemed to be taunting and WILL be flagged!
    By his own admission, he said if he ever scored that he would do his prayer stance, so, he got what he deserved!

    Act like you’ve been there before and stop hurting your team by being SELFISH!

  37. Do you have evidence that Christian players have gotten away with the same thing? You mention Tebow, but the plays that made tebowing popular were game winning touchdown plays and Tebow did the tebowing after the game was over or on the sideline outside of the field of play. When and where the kneel down took place is vital into deciding weather or not the officials were targeting unfairly. If there were Christians that got away with the same exact thing, on the field of play, while the game is in progress, then I agree. Although, there is also the question of did this particular group of refs allow christians to pray in the same exact situation, because maybe this group wouldn’t allow anybody to do it while other groups may allow everybody to do it. There is just so much missing from the equation, that you can’t say definitively that the refs just didn’t like the fact that this guy was Muslim so they wanted to punish him for what he did.

  38. I don’t know. This sounds to me like somebody trying to make something out of something that wasn’t what it seemed. I’m willing to bet if he didn’t slide through the endzone that there would have been no penalty at all. Even the player feels that way (at least publicly) Andy Reid sounded like he was half sticking up for his player and half making a joke.

  39. Or maybe, instead of making officials guess about whether a celebration is “religious” in nature or not, they should just enforce the rule about nobody going to the ground for a celebration for any reason whatsoever.

    Including Tim Tebow. You know…if he ever gets manages to get back in the league.

  40. The ref who threw the flag should be fined for intolerance and even be penalized/disciplined for discrimination.

    I’m also very surprised rest of the fans are very quiet about this injustice.

  41. I’m Muslim, and I seriously wonder if the official even knew that it was a movement of formal Islamic prayer. If so, the official needs to be fined and an apology needs to be issued. If not, well, the officials know now.

  42. I have to agree. If you allow a prayer to one god, you should allow prayers to all gods. I’m absolutely shocked that this hasn’t been an issue before now.

    I would love to see a player, instead of pointing to the sky, after a good play, point down after a good play. That would cause the NFL head office to have seizures.

    Why does noone praise god when they get blown up on a play, or picked off, or fumble? If it was thanks to god when good things happen, it is thanks to god when bad things happen as well.

    When you abdicate free will, your god is responsible for the bad as well.

  43. This rule is poorly written for these reasons and then some:

    How do you define prolonged?
    How do you define excessive?
    What does it mean exactly to be “on the ground”?…Is that with your feet, or only if a knee is touching?
    How do you define celebration?
    How do you define demonstration?
    Why is there an additional clause that talks about “excessive or prolonged” “celebrations or demonstration[s]” if those things that aren’t defined are already supposedly prohibited?

    I’m so very confused about this rule, it doesn’t make any sense.

  44. Adullah is a smart guy. He knows what to say, he knows how to present himself. I think he unjustly got the flag for the slide, not the prayer. The guy will fast during training camp if Ramadan falls in line during the summer. He’s one committed dude. He knows how to take the high road.

    Remove the flag for going to the ground during celebration or flag everyone.

  45. I’m sure this will be all the rage on Fox News this week with the NFL clamping down on a someone’s right to … oh, he’s Muslim? Never mind…

  46. Why are there flags for celebrations anyways? What do these rules protect? Even when celebrations were ridiculous back in the TO/ Chad Johnson days, no one was being harmed. Fans liked it and it gave the talking heads more ammo for their weekly “analysis”.

  47. breaking out a prayer rug is excessive. If they keep it short and sweet there should be no issue. If they allow insane sack dances that draw attention only to themselves and to embarass the other team why not a quick thanks to God if they believe….

  48. I remember on ‘official review’ when the going to the ground rule was implimented that Mike Pierra had said that they didnt want anyone to ever get punished for acts of faith even though it wasnt exempt by the letter of the law.

  49. God, Allah or whatever does not care if you score a TD. Act like you’ve been in endzone and just give the ball to the ref.

  50. Husain is a great person who is true to his faith.

    This should not be considered a penalty.

    If you want to stop a celebration that does truly delay the game, eliminate the Lambeau Leap.

    Of course Packer fans will give me a “thumbs down” because they feel entitled to the free groping of the Packer players.

  51. After getting a pick six on Tom Brady anyone should darn well be able to say a prayer of THANK YOU GOD FOR MAKING MY DAY! (Use of all caps approved by Mr. Daniel Snyder.)

  52. I don’t know what the Koran says about praying in public, but I know the Christian Bible says that you’re to pray in private so that you don’t feel like you’re doing something great for displaying it to others.

    So, at least in the case of Christians, the very act of kneeling and praying after you score a TD goes against what the Bible says.

  53. I didn’t realize the Muslim prayer position was proceeded by a 10 yard slide on the praying person’s knees…that’s pretty cool. My son would definitely be interested in converting if sliding into the prayer position is standard for Muslims. Ok, seriously….I am confident he would have still been flagged if he hadn’t gone into a prayer position. The flag would’ve come just from the slide, not the prayer. Relax, everyone…

  54. OR They could just apply the damn rules to everyone. I see it hundreds of times a weekend. A player goes to the ground to celebrate. No flag. Now this? PSH

  55. The sad part is that there is a segment of EVERY segment – be it right wing, left wing, centrist, christian, muslim, hindu, agnostic, atheist, whatever – that is always a few bricks shy of a load, and doesn’t get it.

    Lately, it’s been the loud, but few, evangelicals who claim that their 1st amendment rights are being violated for their religious beliefs (see: Duck Dynasty, AZ Baker, war on Christmas, Easter, and Marriage, etc., etc. etc.).

    So, here’s the chance for those same people – and organizations – to show us all that you believe in the freedom of religion for ALL religions, not just your own. Because, let’s face it – if you decide that Islam, Hindu, Judaism, or any other religion doesn’t meet your definition of this constitutionally protected freedom that you like to quote every time you feel persecuted, then we’ll know just how much you really care about freedom.

    It’s called a litmus test.

  56. @gtodriver

    I have no problem with the elimination of the Lambeau Leap. At all. Sure it’s great….until someone pops a knee, pulls a hammy, slips and falls, etc. and is hurt.

  57. I wonder if the religious right will stand up for him the way they stood up for Tebow? I wonder how many segments Faux News will give this.

    By the way, both religions say you shouldn’t pray in public. I wouldn’t expect either group to know that though. If they actually read their magic books, they would be an atheist.

  58. A man humbles himself by praying, thanking God for an oppurtunity he may never have in his life again, not seeking the attention for himself and thats a problem? If he were dancing like a male stripper or doing some silly dance to gain attention all for himself…thats ok….no problem? A good litmus test….what would you rather your 8 year old daughter to see, a man humbled or seeking self gratificating on tv?

  59. He was probably flagged for the slide, which is a judgment call according to that rule. You can still disagree with whether it should have been flagged, but at least Abdullah put a positive construction on it.

    To make this a Christian/Muslim thing assumes the ref knows who he’s praying to. How would he know that?

  60. why are religious demonstrations exempt from the rule?

    could ricky willaims (assuming he was rastafarian) go to the ground and pretend to smoke weed?

    there are sooo many fringe sects of religion it would be stupid to cater and bend the rules for all of them so why do it for any of them?

  61. Hasn’t anyone who’s ever done any unnecessary somersault or dive into the end zone violated this rule without getting a flag thrown?

  62. It was the amount of time he spent on the display, not the content of the act itself. You people standing on your heads to prove how tolerant you are are absolutely pitiful.

  63. People should be fined if they pray to any god in any circumstance. It’s the 21st century, people! It’s not the Bronze Age anymore. Those people had an excuse to be ignorant. You don’t.

  64. Just hand the damn ball to the ref! How hard is that? Does he “prostrate himself before God” when he does a nice job trimming the hedges? Or is it something he only wants to do when lots of people are watching?

    Honestly, the me-me-me culture of most NFL players is sickening. Tearing ACLs in celebration? C’mon! I absolutely DO NOT BUY the explanation of “well, you can’t take emotion out of the game.”

    It’s not honest emotion that’s the problem. I’m great with a Lambeau Leap. Just not with a Fun Bunch, Sack Dance or extended celebration.

  65. I’ve had the opportunity to be around Muslim culture a lot… and I didn’t realize he was praying at first. I could see how it looked more like he was sliding in and bowing to the crowd. Tebow dropped to a knee on the spot… I think the slide into the prayer is what was flagged and the ref probably realized after the fact what the guy was doing, but couldn’t really take it back.

  66. As the Muslim poster alluded to before, I doubt the official even KNEW what a Muslim prayer event.

    I didn’t see the play and I’m too lazy to look it up on youtube, but if he did in fact do a long slide, then that’s probably what the flag was thrown for.

    But here’s a simple solution for EVERY NFL player. Score a TD. Hand the ball to the official like #20 on the Lions did for years.

    But again, no person has mad a valid defense of the Lambeau Leap. It is the sheer definition of excessive celebration/delay of game.

  67. ayub04 says:
    Sep 30, 2014 9:31 AM
    A man humbles himself by praying, thanking God for an oppurtunity he may never have in his life again, not seeking the attention for himself and thats a problem? If he were dancing like a male stripper or doing some silly dance to gain attention all for himself…thats ok….no problem? A good litmus test….what would you rather your 8 year old daughter to see, a man humbled or seeking self gratificating on tv?


    Yes, because nothing says ‘humble’ like an NFL player doing a slide thingie in the end zone after scoring a meaningless pick 6 in the 4th quarter of a blowout game.

  68. Charger383 said:

    “You don’t take a football into a house of worship.”

    Obviously you’ve never been to church in the South.


  69. The refs honestly probably didn’t know. I didn’t even know that was how muslims prayed before yesterday. Now that I know, I think it’s perfectly alright… But the refs probably didn’t know that’s how muslims prayed either. Give them the benefit of the doubt on this one.

  70. You know if your god (Allah, Jehovah, God, Buddha, or whatever) really cared about you giving them thanks do they really care where you do it? I would think your God would be just as happy giving thanks behind the bench. Flip the ball to the official like you have been there before and then go pray to give thanks somewhere else.

  71. i agree with the CB i have seen worse celebrations then that and not even a flag thrown whats going on with the NFL these days its not the same anymore

  72. Abdullah sat out the 2012-13 season to go to Mecca on the Hajj.

    It’s clear that he’s very serious about his faith and wasn’t showboating.

  73. Why are we so fast to jump and attack people ALL the time? The NFL apologized. The ref probably had no idea what he was doing. How was he supposed to know he’s of that faith? He saw him go to his knees and threw a flag. By rule it’s a penalty. It shouldn’tve been flagged and it won’t be from now on. Let’s cut people some slack

  74. “Tebowing” was not something Tim Tebow did in the end zone after scoring touchdowns. He did it on the sideline before the games.

    The only score I ever saw him “Tebowing” after was the overtime td pass in the playoffs. At that point the game is over and they’ve stopped throwing flags.

  75. Go ahead and show thanks if you want to…religious freedom is one of the pillars this country is built upon. I think the NFL just needs to clarify EXACTLY what drew the flag, the slide or the exhibit, itself. If it was the slide, then he SHOULD have been flagged, as that is PROHIBITED by the NFL. As “sliding” is not an actual part of praying in the Muslim faith, then it was unnecessary, and Abdullah needs to remember that, should he find himself in the endzone again! Otherwise, just point to the sky or bow to the east and there will be no more discussion about it! Not a big deal!!!

  76. Hey, you know what I noticed? If you go to a live nfl game, at the end you’ll see players from both teams in a circle of prayer. But you’ll never see that on TV…why is the nfl anti prayer? Or are the networks anti prayer? Anybody have an answer to this?

  77. YES!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    no respect for any religion .. that is the USA way .. at least that was what the USA is supposed to be until the crazies toook over

  78. IDIOTS!!!!

    the USA does not guarantee freedom of religion. it guarantees freedom FROM religion. I don’t want your religion forced upon me .. what about that do you not understand?

  79. Our society is interesting.

    The NFL and Goodell won’t say they were wrong by covering up the Rice ordeal.

    But the sensitivity toward muslims has them saying really quickly we were wrong.

    I know this is about the player being flagged, but I really won’t be happy until Goodell is fired.

  80. I think there should be a ban. Gets boring as hell when a player in an interview first of all thanks god for 20 seconds or so for the touchdown he caught when the poor interviewer just wants something about the winning catch.

    Funny they never thank god for the season ending injury they got or the interception they threw to end a game though !

    Any religious celebration should be banned. As the NFL banned fun celebrations they should 100% ban these boring religious ones or they’ll all be praying to their own individual god.

  81. Here are a couple of thoughts:
    1> THe rules have changed since Tebow did his kneeling prayers. IOf he did them today, who knows.

    2. During the broadcast when the penalty was ACTUALLY called, the referee said it was for sliding.

  82. Even Abdullah thinks he was fined for the slide, which he was. Antonio Brown did the same thing (slid) and was penalized for it. You can’t slide. If he just prayed without the slide it may not have been called. Stop being outraged for the guy, he isn’t upset about it.

    I sincerely hope no one here honestly thinks this particular instance reflects at all on Goodell. You don’t think he makes the penalties, do you? Please tell me you don’t. You don’t deserve to talk about football if you think that the commissioner makes the on-field rules. Good grief!

    Also take into account the referee might not be aware of the way in which Muslims pray. Hard to believe, but it’s possible.

  83. gtodriver says:
    Sep 30, 2014 9:13 AM

    Husain is a great person who is true to his faith.

    This should not be considered a penalty.

    If you want to stop a celebration that does truly delay the game, eliminate the Lambeau Leap.

    Of course Packer fans will give me a “thumbs down” because they feel entitled to the free groping of the Packer players.
    The Lambeau Leap doesn’t delay the game, because the players aren’t on the field when they do it.

  84. Had he bowed his head and simply prayed he would have been okay. But when he goes to the ground, does the allah akbar thing and partakes in a ceremony that many associate with just plain evil then he needs to do that in the privacy of his mosque or home and then he can thank his allah….

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