EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Though contracts were rumored to be on the table, Husain Abdullah was still unsigned long into NFL free agency.
Curiously, the former Minnesota Vikings safety wasn’t acting on any of the deals, including one from the Minnesota Vikings. Now it’s becoming more clear why he wasn’t participating in minicamps this month.
According to multiple reports, Husain and his brother, Arizona Cardinals safety Hamza, have decided to put their NFL careers on hold to commit time to their Islamic faith and go on a pilgrimage to Mecca during the 2012 season.
Husain, 26, started the past two seasons for the Vikings but missed the final seven games last season because of a concussion. Husain and Hamza were both free agents this offseason.
“I visited Makkah, Saudi Arabia, in March and a strong sense of urgency overcame me to attend ‘Hajj’ in October,” Husain was quoted by ProFootballTalk.com. “I love the game of football but, it would directly coincide with my pilgrimage. So, I’m taking some time off.”
Husain observed Ramadan each year during Vikings training camp, a remarkable feat considering he would fast and was still active in the sometimes-grueling camp conditions.
Hamza was a key backup and special-teams player for Arizona last season.
“It has been a blessing to play in the NFL for both Husain and I, but we would be remiss if we didn’t give thanks to the One who made it all possible,” Hamza said.
ProFootballTalk.com reported that the Abdullah brothers will have “Iftar,”a Ramadan fast-breaking meal, in a different US mosque every night and plan to speak about fasting and its impact on athletes. The website said the two hope to “deconstruct” the negative connotations of Islam.
The brothers reportedly hope to return to the NFL after their pilgrimage.