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NFL penalizes Muslim player for praying after touchdown

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Husain Abdullah gets flagged for a score, even though there's a loophole in the rule.

Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Kansas City Chiefs defensive back Husain Abdullah intercepted a Tom Brady pass Monday night and scored a touchdown. As he got into the end zone, he went down to his knees in celebration and was penalized 15 yards for violating a rule that says "players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground."

One problem: Abdullah is a devout Muslim and was praying. "If I get a pick, I'm going to prostrate before God in the end zone," Abdullah told the Kansas City Star. He did acknowledge that the penalty might have been for the fact that he slid into the prayer, though that's a really ticky-tack interpretation of the rule.

Former NFL head of officials Mike Pereira tweeted last year that "you're not penalized for going to the ground to give praise after a TD." That's why Christian athletes are never penalized. Abdullah's agent tweeted this:

I suspect this was nothing but a screwup by a referee unfamiliar with Abdullah's Muslim faith. I watched it live and immediately thought he was praying but neither ESPN analyst said a thing.

The whole prayer thing -- whatever one's faith -- is dumb during a game. Unless their God happened to lay the points, I don't think he or she really cares a whole lot who wins an American football game. Prayer can wait until after the game is over.

Update: On Tuesday, the NFL admitted that Abdullah should not have been penalized.