As we prepare for another year of NFL football, let's take a look back at the highs and lows from 2014 for each team. Welcome to NFL Dos and Don'ts. If you missed one, you can read all our recaps right here.
The Chiefs, like the Chargers, finished behind the Broncos in the AFC West with a 9-7 record last year. Unlike the Chargers, they did that with Alex Smith as their starting quarterback and they beat the Chargers twice so…maybe they had a better season? They get prime second-place/first loser billing while the the Chargers are technically the second losers. But this not the Don't section. This is the Do section, so we're going to talk about tight end Travis Kelce and the proper way to send a message.
When NBC's cameras first caught this little maneuver, it wasn't all that clear what he was doing. Referee Walt Coleman was calling a penalty on the Broncos, so it seemed odd that he would be wanking away at the ref. Later that evening Kelce explained himself on Twitter. In a tweet he quickly deleted, Kelce said Von Miller deserved a shot to the face for his cheap shot on Alex Smith.
For fans watching on TV or from the stands, hand signals are always a Do. Otherwise we have no idea what, if anything, is happening. If Kelce just said to his teammates that Miller deserved a shot to the face, we'd have no idea. We wouldn't be part of all that behind-the-scenes action happening right in front of our eyes. Now, thanks to Kelce, we have a colorful, and metaphoric description of the revenge he wanted to take on Von Miller.
This is not the Chiefs' fault, but it happened to the Chiefs, so we are going to talk about it. Husain Abdullah, who is quite open about his muslim faith, intercepted Tom Brady and scored a touchdown in a Monday Night rout of the Patriots. Afterward, he slid into a sajdah prayer position. He was flagged for unsportsmanlike conduct for going to the ground. Sure, he technically did go to the ground. But he was also clearly praying. Calling this a penalty is well outside the Spirit of the Law, but the NFL is very much a Letter of the Law kind of place, and the refs know that. So: going to the ground, bam, unsportsmanlike conduct.
Hilariously, as controversy swelled, the NFL said the call was incorrect, and that the concept of "going to ground" is not intended to prevent prayer.The Referees Association later clapped back saying the referees were graded as having made a correct call on the play, but this is obviously a semantic argument used to justify a bad decision. It's almost certain the referee didn't realize he was praying and threw the flag because he was on the ground for a long while. The referee must have assumed Abdullah was trying to show up the Patriots. Maybe? Who knows.
It's impossible to know, because the NFL's rules regarding celebrations are impossibly stupid to begin with and this kind of episode is the perfect illustration. Nothing happened. There was nothing to be outraged about by Abdullah's celebration (until Abdullah himself was penalized, anyway); it was brief, and personal, and that's 15 yards on the NFL.