During the Chiefs’ destruction of the Patriots, Husain Abdullah picked off Tom Brady and scored, the second touchdown of his career. After scoring, he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, specifically excessive celebration.
This is the unsportsmanlike conduct/excessive celebration he was penalized for:
Abdullah, if you’re unfamiliar, is a practicing Muslim. He fasts during Ramadan, even during NFL training camp, and missed the 2012 NFL season so he and his brother, former Broncos/Cardinals safety Hamza, could visit Mecca during the Hajj in October.Although we don’t know exactly what was going through his head at that moment in time, this appears to be a moment of prayer.
The exact words from the referee were “unsportsmanlike conduct, going to the ground:”
And yes, that is a rule on the books. But the execution here seems off. Last year, former ref and NFL rules expert Mike Pereira pointed out last year that the intent of this rule was not to penalize this type of behavior:
After all, it’s not like he’s wildly celebrating on the ground — like Pereira says, he’s just taking a second to give praise.
What Husain Abdullah did was not “unsportsmanlike.” It was a brief, personal moment between himself and the higher power he believes in, almost exactly akin to the celebration Tim Tebow made famous and was widely celebrated for. The only differences between the two are the positions of their knees and shoulders, the faiths they belong to, and whether or not the NFL’s referees called a penalty.