Texas Christian University quarterback Kenny Hill drew a penalty during a game against Arkansas on Sept. 10 for making a hand gesture after a touchdown, which a referee believed to be a throat slash gesture (video below).
TCU coach Gary Patterson told the media on Sept. 12: "It's sign language for honoring the Kings," notes KDFW.
Patterson went on to explain how the sign language is part of Hill's religious beliefs because it is a gesture for "Rising King," an apparent reference to Jesus Christ.
The referee did not seem to be aware of the back story behind the gesture, and penalized Hill for unsportsmanlike conduct. TCU went on to lose the game to Arkansas in double overtime, 41-38.
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"Andy Dalton used to do this [points upward], he did that," Patterson insisted. "If you're going to call it, you probably should have been consistent."
Hill made the gesture twice during a game against South Dakota State on Sept. 3, but was not penalized.
"I've talked to Kenny," Patterson recalled. "He understands just give it to the referee. I'm not one to stop somebody from anything like that. I understand honor and the man upstairs."
"If he wants to do something like that, he just needs to let me know," Patterson added, reports The Star-Telegram. "That way I can do a better job of backing him up. We’ve learned a lesson."
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The penalty happened after a 5-yard touchdown run by Hill. TCU kept the touchdown, but had to kick off from further back, which gave Arkansas better field position to later tie the game, send it into overtime and win.
"It’s one of those things where it’s too bad it happened," Patterson added. "We all need to learn from it, try not to do it again."
Patterson said he could have advised the referees before the game, and he could have spoken to Hill about making the gesture.
Patterson also praised Hill: "To be honest, he’s been unbelievable. I haven’t had any problems with how he’s acted and done things or anything. He’s been unbelievable, and every week, he just keeps getting better as a leader."