Arizona Cardinals safety Hamza Abdullah and Minnesota Vikings safety Husain Abdullah have been excused from their teams’ training camps for a day.
They’re going to the White House.
The brothers were invited to tonight’s Iftar dinner in observance of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan. “I’m still in shock over it,” Hamza Abdullah said, via the Arizona Republic. “I’m still waiting to get to the airport and they say, ‘Okay, it’s fake.’ ”
The coaches of both teams quickly excused their players. “I wish you could have seen his face,” Arizona Coach Ken Whisenhunt said. “It’s kind of funny it came via e-mail, in a PDF form. The first thing he said was, ‘Is this real?’ ”
It wasn’t a tough choice. “For this occasion, no,” Coach Leslie Frazier said, via the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “A chance to meet the president, visit the White House. I told him I hope in February or next May or whenever it is we'll be going as a team. We're excited for him. I think it's a tremendous opportunity and a great honor.”
The Abdullahs gained national attention last year for fasting during daylight hours throughout Ramadan, which coincides with training camps. Neither plays eats or drinks from dawn until dusk, a tricky proposition on hot days.
“I’ve been doing it since I was 7,” Husain Abdullah told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune last year. “To a Muslim, Ramadan
is what we wait for every year. The holy month of Ramadan, we love it.”
Ramadan began Aug. 1 and ends Aug. 29. The Vikings and Cardinals have taken steps to help the players physicially cope. And the new collective bargaining agreement allows only one practice a day.
“It's the same plan as last year — hydrate, [at] 2 a.m. get the protein shake, kind of a meal-replacement thing, and I'll eat some food if I've got it, and just have dinner and breakfast,” Husain Abdullah said.
Hamza Abdullah will fly to Oakland after the dinner for the Cardinals’ game Thursday against the Raiders. Husain Abdullah will head back to Minnesota afterward. The Vikings play the Titans on Saturday.
“I'm putting nothing before God, nothing before my religion,” Husain Abdullah said last year. “This is something I choose to do, not something I have to do. So I'm always going to fast.”