NFL Intolerance of Public Displays of Religion?

Can NFL intolerance get any more random and irrational?

Wow, I’m sure glad the NFL has its priorities straight. You can cold-cock your fiancée in an elevator, and it takes months for any kind of sane disciplinary action, but kneel in prayer… POW!… bring out the handcuffs. How dare he!


During the Chiefs’ destruction of the Patriots, Husain Abdullah picked off Tom Brady and scored, the second touchdown of his career. After scoring, he was penalized for unsportsmanlike conduct, specifically excessive celebration. […]

Abdullah, if you’re unfamiliar, is a practicing Muslim. He fasts during Ramadan, even during NFL training camp, and missed the 2012 NFL season so he and his brother, former Broncos/Cardinals safety Hamza, could visit Mecca during the Hajj in October.Although we don’t know exactly what was going through his head at that moment in time, this appears to be a moment of prayer.

The exact words from the referee were “unsportsmanlike conduct, going to the ground.”

And yes, that is a rule on the books. But the execution here seems off. Last year, former ref and NFL rules expert Mike Pereira pointed out last year that the intent of this rule was not to penalize this type of behavior.


After all, it’s not like he’s wildly celebrating on the ground — like Pereira says, he’s just taking a second to give praise.

What Husain Abdullah did was not “unsportsmanlike.” It was a brief, personal moment between himself and the higher power he believes in.

Between this kind of nonsense and the fact that Jay Cutler is the most overrated, overpaid quarterback in football, and the Bears stink yet again this year, I’m about to kiss the NFL goodbye.

[See also, “The Real Problem with the NFL]

Please note: I’m obviously not a Muslim (you did know that by now, right?) but I completely support Abdullah’s right to do this brief and totally minor act.

I should note that a Christian friend asked me if the fact that the United States were founded as a Christian nation means this kind of expression should be restricted. Am I advocating civil polytheism? I understand the perspective but it is not workable when there is no longer a shared Christian worldview in America. The only way to enforce any semblance of revealed Law in the United States today would be through tyranny. I see no wisdom in that.

Some people need to be destroyed by their own vision of “freedom” so they can viscerally realize the mistake therein. And… others can learn from watching such self-destruction, which will heighten their perception of the need for the Gospel when they hear it.

If we do not advocate freedom for all in simple expressions of worship, you can be sure we will lose freedom for the Gospel. At that point, you’ve got a desperately sick population and the only antidote for the disease has been ruled illegal. Then you’ve got a major problem.