Earl Thomas hugs official after scoring TD, is penalized

BySheil Kapadia ESPN logo
Sunday, October 30, 2016

NEW ORLEANS -- In what has to be an NFL first, Seattle Seahawks safety Earl Thomas drew an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty Sunday for hugging an official.

Thomas recovered a fumble by New Orleans Saints running back Mark Ingram in the first quarter and raced down the right sideline for a 34-yard touchdown. He gave the football to a fan in the stands, then ran toward an official with his arms wide open before going in for the hug.

The official, side judge Alex Kemp, didn't seem to appreciate the gesture and reached into his pocket immediately to flag Thomas for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty.

The 15 yards were enforced on the ensuing kickoff.

The Saints defeated the Seahawks, 25-20.

The NFL rulebook, in addressing contact with officials, states, "Under no circumstances is an official to allow a player to shove, push, or strike him in an offensive, disrespectful, or unsportsmanlike manner. The player shall be disqualified from the game, and any such action must be reported to the Commissioner."

ESPN's Kevin Seifert contributed to this report.

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