Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah made an incredible play on Monday night against the Patriots. He picked off New England quarterback Tom Brady and returned the interception for a touchdown. After scoring, Abdullah did what dozens of players do during every game; he prayed. The only problem: Abdullah is Muslim.
He was given a 15-yard unsportsmanlike penalty because under NFL guidelines, this is unsportsmanlike behavior. According to Rule 12, Section 3, Article 1 (D): "Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations or demonstrations while on the ground."
The problem with is that Abdullah is by far not the first to drop to the ground in religious celebrating after scoring. While not dropping all the way down to the ground isn't that what Tim Tebow did? Was he not dropping to one knee in prayer?
Tebowing became a social media sensation, and is still occasionally done today. So, why was Abdullah punished for dropping down in prayer? Yours truly would like to think that it was because the officials were unaware of his religion, and simply thought he was celebrating. Because if it was deliberate, then the NFL has created yet another public relations scandal for themselves.
Today, they have come out and said the penalty was a mistake, but that's two days after the fact. Yesterday saw far right-wing activists worked up into a frenzy upset with this while liberals pointed out correctly that in a nation which has a separation of church and state, Muslims have just as much right to pray in the end zone as Christians do.
In this case, those pointing out that Abdullah has just as much right to pray in the end zone as anyone else are completely and unequivocally correct. This is a nation that was founded on the principles of equal rights; that all men are created equal. Everyone in this nation is afforded religious protection and is protected from persecution.
Abdullah is not just someone who is looking for controversy. He is a practicing Muslim who took time off from football back in 2012 to make the Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca. In his time with the Minnesota Vikings before taking time off, he made it known that should he ever score a defensive touchdown, he would celebrate in the manner he did.
"If I get a pick, I'm going to prostrate before God in the end zone," he told reporters, according to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune.
While this writer in no way attempting to insinuate that the NFL is disrespecting the Muslim faith, this is something they must deal with right now. The National Football League should be a place for all and one where anyone can play; not just a league for Christians.