Michael Signora

Week 54 (27 September - 3 October 2014)

By its nature, American football is a sport which requires thinking quickly on your feet.

Master strategies and playbooks with 800 options might suggest a game which is trying to outgrow the need for executive decisions – but in reality it has created one in which succeeding is totally dependent on it. With only 25 seconds to make a decision about the next play, the coach and players who can think clearly – and quickly – regularly stand the best chance of winning.

However, the National Football League (NFL) has recently been caught out acting very indecisively, mainly over Ray Rice's domestic abuse case but also with the ongoing concussion litigation.

So it was a turn for the better to see Michael Signora, the NFL's Vice President of Football Communications, cutting down a potential new controversy before it started earlier this week.

In the Kansas City Chiefs' match-up with the New England Patriots on Monday night, Chiefs' player, Husain Abdullah, was penalised after celebrating a touchdown by dropping to his knees in prayer.

The officials adjudged that he had shown unsportsmanlike conduct through his "celebration" – but it wasn't clear at the time whether this referred to his act of praying or the slide to his knees beforehand.

Regardless, Twitter reacted, and the debate boiled nicely overnight. And it may have started to rage had it not been for Signora, who tweeted early the next day that:

"Abdullah should not have been penalized. Officiating mechanic is not to flag player who goes to ground for religious reasons."

Signora and the NFL followed this up with a longer statement, emailed to various news outlets, clarifying exactly why the officials should not have penalised Abdullah.

With these two statements, the controversy, which had all the ingredients for a long running saga, was killed.

It was smart work from the NFL and Michael Signora but it also shows how Twitter, and Twitter users, have come of age. They may be happy to fill a vacuum with their own views but as soon as veritable communications are released, they are only too keen to share the news – Signora's tweet was retweeted 1,500 times – and move onto the next debate.

Photo: Penn State