Scoggins: Career on hold, Abdullah puts focus on faith

  • Article by: CHIP SCOGGINS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: July 30, 2012 - 11:04 PM

Former Vikings starting free safety about to make a trip to Mecca.

hide

Husain Abdullah (center) turned down a one-year contract offer from the Vikings this offseason in order to prepare for his Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia.

Photo: Jim Mone, Associated Press

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Vikings put on full pads for the first time in training camp Monday. A few hours north of Mankato, Husain Abdullah, the team's starting free safety last season, sat in a car dealership as his rented minivan got a oil change and other service.

His internal clock can't ignore the fact training camp is underway, and he finds it difficult to shut off the competitive juices that flow with the start of football season.

"One of the best feelings is laying into somebody and knowing you got the best of him," he said, smiling.

Abdullah still loves football and keeps in touch with his former Vikings teammates, but he has chosen to pursue a different calling. He turned down a one-year contract offer from the Vikings this offseason in order to prepare for his Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca, Saudi Arabia. Abdullah plans to make the hajj, the sacred pilgrimage that is one of five pillars of Islam, in October.

Abdullah's spirituality has always been a driving force in his life, but he experienced an emotional tug-of-war as he debated whether to play football or travel to Mecca this fall.

"This was the first time in life I just couldn't decide," he said. "It's like I had no control over the situation but all the control."

Ultimately, his faith took precedence over football. He put his football career on hold -- with no guarantees of resuming it -- and is traveling the country with his two older brothers on a goodwill trip during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. Hamza, an eight-year NFL veteran who played for the Arizona Cardinals the past three seasons, and oldest brother Abbas joined Husain on a coast-to-coast tour of mosques during Ramadan.

Their plan is to visit 30 cities in 30 days, a total of 12,000 miles. They started in Los Angeles, worked their way up the West Coast and made stops in Boise, Salt Lake City, Denver and Omaha.

The brothers drove all night and reached the Twin Cities early Monday morning. They slept a few hours before visiting mosques in Eden Prairie and Bloomington. They take turns driving three-hour shifts.

"I understand why moms love minivans," Husain said. "Those things are awesome. You can load up a bunch of stuff. You get good miles-to-the-gallon. Everybody has leg room."

At each stop, they attend the evening meal when Muslims break their fast. The Abdullahs share their story and message with kids and those who supported them as NFL players. Their motto is, "Want for your brother what you want for yourself."

"You're not being facetious or fake or anything like that," Hamza said. "We just want to be good people."

They grew up in Southern California in a household with 12 children and modest means. Their father is a carpenter and handyman. Money was tight so the siblings shared clothes and always looked out for each other.

"We live in a world where unfortunately it's like, I've got to step over everybody to get to the top, instead of, I'm going to help you and we're going to achieve it together," Husain said. "This is your brother. If you see him doing good, you shouldn't be envious of him or jealous of him. You should be happy for him."

The brothers find enjoyment in helping others and trying to set a positive example. They served dinner at a homeless shelter during their Denver visit.

"It just put everything in perspective," Hamza said. "I miss football and training camp, but when I walked in those doors and saw those faces, it really humbled me. I said this is where I need to be right now."

They admit the reaction hasn't been all positive. Some people think they're crazy to jeopardize their NFL careers. The brothers make an effort to reach out and talk to those people, too.

"For us, this was just a pressing need," Husain said.

Husain and Hamza plan to resume training in Los Angeles in November after returning from Mecca. They will hold a workout for NFL scouts and hope that leads to a contract. If it doesn't and the window has closed, Husain understands that's a possibility, too. He wants to earn his master's degree in educational counseling after football, maybe start a business and learn the Arabic language.

"For me, I came into [the NFL] undrafted so I've already had an exit plan the whole time," he said.

Husain hopes he doesn't need that plan just yet. He overcame long odds just to make the Vikings roster, gradually working his way into the starting lineup. He admits he turned down "a good sum" from the Vikings, but he followed his heart. He hopes football is still an option when he returns.

"I didn't burn bridges," he said. "I have never gone against the grain. I've always done whatever I'm asked to do to the best of my ability."

Chip Scoggins • ascoggins@startribune.com

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Cleveland - WP: C. Allen 4 FINAL
Kansas City - LP: G. Holland 3
Baltimore - LP: W. Chen 0 FINAL
NY Yankees - WP: M. Pineda 5
Kansas City - WP: D. Duffy 2 FINAL
Cleveland - LP: C. Carrasco 0
Seattle - LP: J. Paxton 4 FINAL
Toronto - WP: J. Happ 14
Chicago WSox - WP: C. Bassitt 2 FINAL
Detroit - LP: K. Lobstein 0
Pittsburgh - WP: F. Liriano 1 FINAL
Atlanta - LP: A. Harang 0
Houston - LP: N. Tropeano 3 FINAL
Texas - WP: D. Holland 4
St. Louis - WP: A. Wainwright 8 FINAL
Chicago Cubs - LP: T. Wood 0
Arizona - WP: J. Collmenter 6 FINAL
Minnesota - LP: R. Nolasco 2
LA Angels - LP: C. Wilson 4 FINAL
Oakland - WP: J. Samardzija 8
San Francisco 2 Bottom 11th Inning
Los Angeles 2
Colorado - LP: T. Matzek 0 FINAL
San Diego - WP: E. Stults 1
Chicago 27 FINAL
NY Jets 19
NY Giants 9/25/14 7:25 PM
Washington
Buffalo 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Houston
Green Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Chicago
Tennessee 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Carolina 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Baltimore
Detroit 9/28/14 12:00 PM
NY Jets
Tampa Bay 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Pittsburgh
Miami 9/28/14 12:00 PM
Oakland
Jacksonville 9/28/14 3:05 PM
San Diego
Atlanta 9/28/14 3:25 PM
Minnesota
Philadelphia 9/28/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
New Orleans 9/28/14 7:30 PM
Dallas
Ottawa 2 FINAL
NY Islanders 3
Ottawa 5:00 PM
NY Islanders
New Jersey 5 FINAL
NY Rangers 4
Detroit 2 FINAL
Pittsburgh 1
Toronto 3 FINAL
Philadelphia 2
Washington 4 FINAL
Philadelphia 5
Minnesota 1 FINAL
Winnipeg 2
St. Louis 3 FINAL
Dallas 4
Anaheim 5 FINAL
Colorado 2
Colorado 0 FINAL
Anaheim 4
Los Angeles 4 FINAL
Arizona 5
Arizona 3 FINAL
Los Angeles 4
Texas Tech 9/25/14 6:30 PM
(24) Oklahoma State
Appalachian St 9/25/14 6:30 PM
Ga Southern
(11) UCLA 9/25/14 9:00 PM
(15) Arizona State
Middle Tennessee 9/26/14 7:00 PM
Old Dominion
Fresno State 9/26/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico
Texas-El Paso 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(25) Kansas State
Tennessee 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(12) Georgia
Vanderbilt 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Kentucky
Wyoming 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(9) Michigan State
Northwestern 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Penn State
TCU 9/27/14 11:00 AM
SMU
Iowa 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Purdue
Tulane 9/27/14 11:00 AM
Rutgers
So Florida 9/27/14 11:00 AM
(19) Wisconsin
Colorado State 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Boston College
Western Mich 9/27/14 11:30 AM
Virginia Tech
Maryland 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Indiana
Akron 9/27/14 12:30 PM
Pittsburgh
Bowling Green 9/27/14 2:00 PM
Massachusetts
Arkansas 9/27/14 2:30 PM
(6) Texas A&M
Kent State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Virginia
Western Ky 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Navy
Minnesota 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Michigan
Wake Forest 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Louisville
FIU 9/27/14 2:30 PM
UAB
(1) Florida State 9/27/14 2:30 PM
NC State
Miami-Ohio 9/27/14 2:30 PM
Buffalo
Colorado 9/27/14 3:00 PM
California
Louisiana Tech 9/27/14 3:00 PM
(5) Auburn
Texas 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Kansas
Temple 9/27/14 3:00 PM
Connecticut
(16) Stanford 9/27/14 3:15 PM
Washington
TX-San Antonio 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Fla Atlantic
South Alabama 9/27/14 4:00 PM
Idaho
Cincinnati 9/27/14 5:00 PM
(22) Ohio State
Rice 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Southern Miss
Missouri 9/27/14 6:00 PM
(13) So Carolina
Boise State 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Air Force
North Carolina 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Clemson
Central Mich 9/27/14 6:00 PM
Toledo
Troy 9/27/14 6:00 PM
ULM
New Mexico St 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(17) LSU
Memphis 9/27/14 6:30 PM
(10) Ole Miss
Duke 9/27/14 6:30 PM
Miami-Florida
Texas State 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Tulsa
Washington St 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Utah
(8) Notre Dame 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Syracuse
(7) Baylor 9/27/14 7:00 PM
Iowa State
UNLV 9/27/14 7:00 PM
San Diego St
Illinois 9/27/14 8:00 PM
(21) Nebraska
Oregon State 9/27/14 9:30 PM
(18) USC
Nevada 9/27/14 9:30 PM
San Jose St
Montreal 9/26/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Saskatchewan 9/26/14 9:00 PM
Edmonton
Hamilton 9/27/14 5:30 PM
Winnipeg
Brt Columbia 9/27/14 8:30 PM
Calgary
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pm
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Grade the Vikings offense

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close