On Friday night, when Sam Turner caught a touchdown pass for Fort Myers High School, he celebrated with an end zone prayer — and was quickly flagged with a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct:
The penalty is pretty much guaranteed when a player drops to his knees for a celebration, regardless of reason, but it’s hardly surprising that some Christians see this as an assault on faith and are congratulating Turney for what he did:
Although the 15-yard penalty Turner received for the 5-second devotional was not expected by the 16-year-old senior, he has since taken it in stride.
“It’s very cool to see how everyone is taking it,” he said. “I use my faith as a platform for my talents. My teammates are giving my tons of support. They all know I’m strong believer, even though it cost us 15 yards.” He also acknowledged it might have been a little tougher if the penalty had cost them the game.
That article at The News-Press includes several comments from Christians:
Gina Marie What the hell is wrong with this country? It’s America…. this is God’s country. They shouldn’t have to pay to get in the game then because it’s made with money that says In God We Trust. Worry about more important crap than a kid praying you idiots.
Susan Natalia Jerger It was awesome and I hope if it happens again that he does it again! I also pray this goes national and some awesome college football coach that shares Sam’s faith, both on and off the field, recruits and picks him up after seeing this! I’ve got one in mind Sam!!!
Tom Stawicki WTH… this is high a school game. Ref get a life.
The refs were just doing their job, just as they did in September during a Monday Night Football game when the Kansas City Chiefs’ Husain Abdullah intercepted a Tom Brady pass, ran it in for a touchdown, and slid to his knees in a brief prayer. (The refs in that case later apologized, arguably due to pressure.)
At least Turner’s coach understood the ref’s decision:
Turner’s coach, Sam Sirianni Jr., said he cannot fault the emotions displayed by Turner nor can he find fault with the reaction by the officials.
“It comes down to a ref’s discretion,” he said. “To them, they try to follow the letter of the rules. You accept both sides. I have seen it happen at all levels. The officials have to toe the line.”
It’s amazing how a disciplined player can do everything he needs to do to score a touchdown… but is unable to resist the shout-out to Jesus afterwards.
(Thanks to Matt for the link)