NFL: We Blew It on Penalty Over Muslim Prayer

League says KC player should not have been flagged
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Sep 30, 2014 2:45 PM CDT
NFL: We Blew It on Penalty Over Muslim Prayer
Kansas City Chiefs free safety Husain Abdullah prays after intercepting a pass and running it back for a touchdown.   (AP Photo/Ed Zurga)

The NFL is getting quicker with its mea culpas: Amid another growing controversy, the league admitted its mistake today in penalizing a player over a Muslim prayer on the field last night, reports the Kansas City Star. In the game, referees flagged Chiefs player Husain Abdullah, a devout Muslim, after he slid to his knees for a prayer after scoring a touchdown. Immediately, the league began taking flak: If, say, Tim Tebow, can pray in the end zone and not be penalized, why not a Muslim player? Earlier today, the Council on American-Islamic Relations urged the NFL to clarify its rules to "prevent the appearance of a double-standard," reports AP.

Hours later, the NFL said the penalty was, in fact, a blown call. While league rules prevent players from celebrating while on the ground, there is an exception: The "officiating mechanic in this situation is not to flag a player who goes to the ground as part of religious expression, and as a result, there should have been no penalty on the play," says an NFL spokesperson. Abdullah, for his part, wasn't making a big deal of it. (The NFL lost a legal fight today with the FCC over game blackouts.)

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