The unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on Husain Abdullah on Monday was the correct call, according to the NFL Referees Association.
The NFLRA on Friday defended the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty called on Husain Abdullah after he slid into the endzone and knelt in prayer after scoring a touchdown in the Kansas City Chiefs’ 41-14 win over the New England Patriots.
But it’s not the prayer that warranted a penalty, the NFLRA said. It was his slide leading to the kneel.
In a release, former NFLRA president Scott Green said that neither Abdullah nor the referees were “confused as to why a flag was thrown,” per USA Today.
“The player was flagged, correctly, for the slide on his knees in the end zone, not for going to the ground in a prayerful gesture,” Green continued. “On-field officials are aware of the prayer provision and respect the right of players of all faiths to express themselves.”
Abdullah, a devout Muslim, acknowledged after the game that he thought the penalty was for the slide, too. The NFL, on the other hand, said that there shouldn’t have been a penalty on the play.
Although it seems silly, Abdullah would have had to come to a complete stop and then kneel in order to prevent a 15-yard penalty. Because, you know, that’s exactly what’s going through his head after picking off Tom Brady and returning the interception for his first career touchdown.
Photo via Denny Medley/USA TODAY Sports Images