Football penalty inspires T-shirt - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Football penalty inspires T-shirt

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By  Stephanie Springer  - bio | email

Fitzgerald, GA (WALB) - A simple gesture made at a high school football game is causing a whole lot of commotion in a small town.  The Fitzgerald Purple Hurricanes football team was penalized when a team member pointed to the sky and gave thanks to God.

Video shows how R. J. Davis reacted after he caught a touchdown pass at Friday night's football game.

"When I caught the ball I pointed my finger to give God thanks and allowing him to let me be open in the first place," said Davis.

But the gesture cost the entire team a 15-yard penalty, and some folks aren't happy.

"The reaction I had was really just non-belief because it was so brief gesture and it didn't serve anyone except for R. J. he did it because of his beliefs,"said Fitzgerald resident Walt Gordon.

According the High school football rule book, the rules state that no player should act in any delayed excessive or prolonged way in which a player attempts to focus attention on himself.

" I think that's the way that referee took it as he was bringing attention to himself but me knowing R. J. and coaching him that was not the case," said head football coach Robby Pruitt.

Coaches and fans say R. J. is very religious, and this gesture was nothing new.

"He's knelt down, he's pointed to the sky before this was kind of out of character for them to call a penalty on this,"said Gordon.

Now R. J.'s gesture is causing a whole lot of buzz in the community. Social networking sites, and football chat rooms are flooded with conversation about the 17-year old senior's move. Some folks even made T-shirts to wear during the next game.

"I wasn't jumping I wasn't hollering I just pointed my finger up and gave the ref the ball," said Davis. 

But penalty or not, R. J. says he'd do it again in a heartbeat. "I believe God deserves the thanks for all he does on the football field."

R. J. hopes if others see he is willing to stand up for his beliefs, maybe they will too.

More than 100 people are expected to buy the T-shirts and wear them to the next football game.

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