The NFL admitted Tuesday that Husain Abdullah should not have been penalized when he slid into a prayer after scoring a touchdown on a pick-six during Monday night's game against the New England Patriots. The Kansas City Chiefs safety was flagged for excessive celebration, which, by the NFL rulebook, includes going to the ground in celebration. The NFL makes an exception for prayer, however.
NFL vice president of football communications Michael Signora explained in a tweet, saying, "Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons."
The penalty sparked some controversy when it occurred. Abdullah is a practicing Muslim, and given the propensity of Christian prayer after touchdowns in football, the flag felt, well, awkward.
As SB Nation's Brian Floyd explained, the penalty likely had much more to do with the complex, unwieldy and ambiguous language the NFL uses in its rulebook, rather than any kind of statement on Abdullah's religion. The NFL appears to be admitting as much.