In NFL, prayer is unsportsmanlike. Sometimes

Football and religion are at it again.

In last night’s game, Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah knelt in prayer after picking off a pass from the over-the-hill Tom Brady and scoring a touchdown.

Abdullah was penalized for “unsportsmanlike” conduct.(Update: League says it was a bad call)

Deadspin today is not impressed, particular since more Christian expressions of thanks go unpenalized:

Going strictly by the rulebook, NFL officials are seemingly justified in flagging Abdullah, as part of the taunting rule states, “players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground.” But in 2008, then-vice president of NFL officiating Mike Pereira explained on the NFL Network that there was a loophole in the rule against players going to the ground: prayer.

“If I get a pick I am going to prostrate before God in the end zone,” Abdullah told The Kansas City Star.

Cris Carter of the Minnesota Vikings kneels down in prayer in Minneapolis, Sept. 25, 1995, after scoring a touchdown in a game against the Miami Dolphins, at the Metrodome. (AP Photo/Tom Olmstead)
  • KTN

    I know football is important, but even with an omniscient God, all seeing, all knowing, I have a hard time thinking that this God is in anyway impressed one of these idiots scored a touchdown.

    • She’s busy watching NASCAR.

      • Jack

        Nah – she gave up on them too.

  • jon

    So, praying to the Christian God is ok…
    Praying to Allah is not ok…
    What about Praying to the highway engineers in the next story?

  • Gary F

    YEP, and RG3 of the Washington Redskins was told to turn his t-shirt inside out for a press conference last week because it had a religious statement including the word “Jesus” on it.

    Seems like the NFL has an image problem with lots of folks.

  • He was penalized for not actually facing Mecca.

  • John O.

    Upon further review, New England didn’t have a prayer last night.

  • Nicholas Kraemer

    This is much ado about nothing. According to CNN:
    “”I got a little too excited,” Abdullah said, according to ESPN. “So, I think it was because of the slide.”
    Abdullah’s coach, Andy Reid, also said Monday that the referees told him the slide, not the prayer, led to the penalty.”
    So there you have it, both the player involved and the one who threw the flag say that the penalty was not in ANY RELATED to the prayer. I can understand why the NFL is trying to back away from this, because the masses have a hard time understanding nuance and reason. However, the fact remains that all evidence indicates that the prayer itself did not draw the flag.
    Also, it should be pointed out that Mike Pereira is flat out wrong about any exception in the NFL rule book. “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.” <-NFL rule book

    • Wake me when they start flagging the Lambeau Leap.

      • David

        If what Nicholas quotes is the actual rule I think the phrase “on the ground” would exempt the Lambeau Leap

        • jon

          The Lambeau take off and landing however should be a flag.

  • kevinfromminneapolis

    Isn’t it also pretty possible that they didn’t realize he was praying? Between that and the player and official saying it wasn’t because of the prayer I think it’s safe to declare a faux-rage alert.

    Also I don’t think that rule was in place when Carter was in the league. And was that photo by Tom Olmstead or Tom Olmscheid, who is otherwise best known as the former MN House Photographer jumping out of the way of Greg Lewis’ game winning touchdown catch against the 49ers in 2009?