Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah was penalized on Sept. 29 during a game against the New England Patriots in what was seen by many as an absolutely shady call made by the NFL officials — he was penalized when he bowed to the ground to pray after scoring a touchdown.
Later, the NFL came out and criticized that call because players aren’t supposed to be flagged for going to the ground for religious reasons.
But still, yes, I said the word shady. The game itself was beyond epic, from the interception in the end by Abdullah to the Chiefs’ stunning win against the Patriots.
To mark such a victorious play, Abdullah bowed down on the ground, which is recognized by many Muslims as a ritual performed during prayer.
But let’s take a few steps back here and analyze the true issue at hand, which is the reason for Abdullah’s penalty.
The NFL referees defended the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty as having been called because of Abdullah’s slide in the end zone, but not his actual bow.
But this seems like more of a silly, nitpicky attempt to cover the true intention behind the penalty, which is the fact that the referees penalized Abdullah for bowing down.
Let’s be truthful here, and realize that if the NFL referees really wanted to penalize him for such horrid unsportsmanlike conduct, maybe we can replay the thousands of previous played games during the NFL league and see how players celebrated when scoring.
From dancing to hip-shaking, Abdullah’s slide seemed more out of momentum than an actual, deliberate attempt to be unsportsmanlike.
So come on, NFL referees, you are not fooling anyone. Even an amateur football watcher like me saw straight through your attempt to cover up your actions.
Even if the NFL referees did truly penalize Abdullah for sliding, then this only raises the question of consistency when it comes to applying the rules.
From the famous Tim Tebow prayer ritual — known as Tebowing — to the numerous of other players who celebrate scoring a touchdown in much more outrageous ways, there is a lack of consistency going on here that is making the NFL referees actions against Abduallah even more questionable.
Whether it is through signing the cross before going onto the field, Tebowing or bowing, some NFL players have their own way of signifying their connection with God, and this should not be questioned, nor attempted to be covered up, by a nitpicky law.
The general concept of unsportsmanlike conduct can be interpreted in so many ways, leaving it to the referees to call uncalled-for penalties against players like Abdullah.
As a Muslim who stands by the First Amendment and the right to freedom of religion, no player should ever feel hesitant to show their faith on the field.
So many players celebrate when scoring a touchdown, and if Abdullah’s way of celebrating is to bow down and acknowledge his creator, then he has every right to do so.
Actions that incorporate religious faith, especially when commonly practiced or known, should not be penalized and covered up through inconsistent, vague laws.
The NFL referees need to realize their actions were unfair against Abdullah, and if they want to make a penalty like this fair, they need to be consistent. Otherwise, their actions are just ignorant and foolish.