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NFL admits error in penalizing former Cougar Husain Abdullah

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After Muslim football player, and former WSU safety, Husain Abdullah was penalized for praying in the endzone following a touchdown return, the NFL now says that issuing the penalty was an error.

Dilip Vishwanat

Former Washington State safety and current Kansas City Chiefs safety Husain Abdullah has one of the most unique and amazing stories in the entire NFL. Abdullah has been able to work his Muslim faith into his day job in an amazing way, but this past Monday, after scoring a touchdown, Abdullah sparked an unexpected controversy.

Husain Abdullah, who graduated from WSU in 2008, intercepted a 4th quarter pass from Tom Brady of the Patriots and returned it 39 yards for only his second touchdown of his career. After crossing the goal line, Abdullah slid into the endzone and bowed his head in prayer. Officials ended up throwing a flag for "going to the ground in celebration" and hit him with the 15 yard "unsportsmanlike conduct" penalty. More information, video and reaction on the penalty is here.

Immediately after it happened, and into the next day, people came out heavily in support of Abdullah and against the ruling in the game. Many felt that after allowing Tebow to pray in his famous pose after touchdowns, yet penalizing this celebration set a little bit of a double standard. Here's a piece from the New York Time's coverage of this story.

The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a Muslim civil rights and advocacy organization, had asked the N.F.L. early Tuesday to clarify its policies "to prevent the appearance of a double standard."

Chiefs officials, including head coach Andy Reid and Abdullah himself, felt that the penalty may have been given because of the slide before the prayer. However, on Tuesday afternoon, the NFL released a statement confirming that the penalty shouldn't have been given:

If you don't know the story of the Abdullah brothers, it is certainly one to take the time to learn about today. These are brothers that are so committed to their faith that they fast during Ramadan, even when it falls within NFL training camp, and even took a full year off from the NFL to make a journey to Mecca. My favorite video is this one from NBC News a couple years back telling their full story, from their days growing up to their time at Washington State and into the NFL.

In the end Andy Reid sums up my thoughts on the situation perfectly:

"When you go to Mecca, you should be able to slide wherever you want," Reid said after the game. "We've got two priests in here. They'd probably vouch for me."

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