Sometimes you have to wonder if the National Football League do anything right. I mean, it seems fans still pour into stadiums and televisions are fixed to games when they are on so it can’t be all that bad can it? I’m starting to think that maybe it can be.
This past Monday night during the Kansas City Chiefs beat-down of the New England Patriots, Chiefs defensive back Husain Abdullah returned an interception for a touchdown. As he entered the end zone he went to his knees and slid on them all the way to the back of it. When he stopped, he leaned forward and prayed in the style of his Islamic faith.
This drew a penalty flag for an inappropriate celebration. My immediate thought was ‘wait a minute… If Tim Tebow can pray then why can’t this guy?’ The NFL would later say he shouldn’t have been flagged for the prayer then later today back-tracked once again and said the flag was appropriate because Abdullah went to his knees which draws a penalty flag whenever it’s used as part of a post-play celebration.
But this has become subjective and inconsistent. Wow, subjective and inconsistent in the NFL? I know, right?
Tim Tebow used to go his knee and prayer following scores but was never flagged. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ Brett Keisel, a defensive end, sacked Philip Rivers of the San Diego Chargers a few years back. He celebrated his accomplishment by going to a knee and pretending to shoot his bow and arrow towards the sky.
Keisel is an avid hunter in the offseason and when he protested the flag he was told it had nothing to do with the archery bit. Instead it was because he violated the celebration rule about going to one’s knee.
So let’s see here; Tebow was allowed to go to a knee and prayer but Keisel was not allowed to go to a knee and pretend to shoot Bambi. Now we have another player was originally flagged for his Muslim prayer, then was told he shouldn’t have been and then was told it was about his knees not his prayer.
If the league has a clear policy that says a player cannot go to the ground in a post-play celebration then why the subjective discipline? I have a very simple solution for this mess. Either players can pray and do so in any matter they so choose or no one can. Period. End of Report.
This all leads to a larger question though in my opinion. Why did the league feel it so necessary to ban nearly every touchdown celebration ever known to man? I don’t know of one person who was offended by the Ickey Shuffle or Washington’s Fun Bunch or Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson little dance. The reason the NFL banned these was because they were afraid they were getting out of hand.
Terrel Owens and Chad Johnson were overboard in my opinion. When yo go out of your way to do put a pen in your sock or run to midfield to enjoy your score on the opponent’s logo, that’s admittedly going too far. But still, I see no reason why a group of teammates can’t celebrate a score as long as it doesn’t taunt the other team.
That’s the other major issue by the way. All of this was happening the same time as the throat-slashing gestures so why not clean all of it up at the same time? This is what the league did and rather than just address the slashing issue they attacked everything.
So here we are today in the NFL unable to so much as pray or pretend to hunt. I can only imagine what’s next.