Posted October 31, 2013

Former NFL player Hamza Abdullah rails against the league on Twitter

NFL safety
Hamza Abdullah spent seven seasons in the NFL with four different teams.

Hamza Abdullah spent seven seasons in the NFL with four teams. (AP)

Defensive back Hamza Abdullah was selected in the seventh round of the 2005 draft by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and he spent the next seven seasons in the league with four teams. Abdullah was never a superstar, but he did outlast the average NFL player in career length, which would seem to be an admirable accomplishment in that narrow window.

I spoke with Abdullah and his brother Husain in 2012 about their NFL careers, their Muslim faith and their need to balance the physical demands of professional football with the requirement that people of their faith must fast during the holy month of Ramadan. I found both men to be interesting and articulate, with strong belief structures, which made Hamza’s outbursts on Twitter all the more atypical and alarming.

If you want to check out Abdulla’s Twitter feed, the link is here — but be warned, it’s not advised for kids or for a workplace environment. Abdullah put his social media settings on blast today. Here are some of the edited tweets:

F— you NFL for doing your former players the way you’re doing em…. F— you NFL for lying to these people and denying the fact that football causes brain damage. … Every player understood the risks of playing football, and we did it, and would do it over again! … We just thought/assumed we would be taken care of after we were done. … F— you NFL for denying players their benefits and making us go through all these f—ing hoops. … F— you NFL because you are the plantation and WE are the slaves!!! #IfYouThinkOtherwiseYouAreDelusional … F— you NFL for that slave trade you call the “NFL COMBINE”, where you strip us of our manhood. … F— you NFL for wanting players to kill themselves so you can show the “SLAVES” what life off the plantation is …

There’s a reason 80% of former players either go broke or get divorced within 5 years of leaving the game. … It’s not poor choices by the player, it’s the f—ing NFL loading the gun, and us pulling the trigger. … F— you NFL for not taking care of players families. … How many former players have to kill themselves before you guys f—ing realize, that they’re pushing us to it. … I’ve thought about that, and the only reason I won’t, is because I’m Muslim. … But I do think about if my families life would be better, if I wasn’t here. Every time I go to sleep, I pray that Allah takes care of my family, just in case I don’t wake up. … And quietly, I’m disappointed sometimes when I do wake up.

I’m married to a beautiful wife, have 3 beautiful children, and my financially GOOD, yet I don’t want to wake up. … There’s a problem with that. I fear the thoughts that creep into my head. And I guarantee you others are having them … F— you NFL for lying to these parents and pushing stats that says soccer causes more concussions. … F— you Roger Goodell. You would sell your f—ing soul for a dollar.

Abdullah went on to rail against injury waivers and the non-guaranteed status of NFL contracts, but the disconcerting part obviously comes when he expresses suicidal thoughts. He later said that all former NFL players should see psychiatrists, and that the NFL should pay for it. Hard to argue the point about seeking counseling, especially given the sad history of former players who have harmed themselves with the potentially devastating effects of the game in mind. Former NFL great Junior Seau’s battle with chronic traumatic encephalopathy  (CTE) was brought to the forefront of public awareness when Seau took his own life in May 2012. CTE, a brain disease associated with repeated blows to the head, often results in wild mood swings, irrationality, forgetfulness, insomnia and depression. The suicides of former NFL players Ray Easterling and Dave Duerson have also been linked to brain injuries.

On Aug. 29, the NFL settled lawsuits with over 4,000 former players, who contended that the league hid the long-term effects of concussions and other injuries for decades. The $765 million payout, which did not include legal fees, has not yet been approved by the presiding judge, Anita Brody. Judge Brody recently delayed the approval hearing so that the financial experts assigned to the case could assess whether the settlement amount would cover all the impaired players.

 Hopefully Abdullah — and all current and former players undergoing similar struggles — will find ways to get the help they need in the interim.

147 comments
leon1376
leon1376

Whoa! Stop! Rewind the tape! I missed the part where this guy was frog-marched onto the field at gunpoint. He must have gone through hell being forced to play football against his will, for a paltry few million dollars. That has to really suck. No wonder he's whining like a little baby. Too bad. 

Centennial
Centennial

Yikes! If only the the diplomats of the NFLPA were this this honest. Good for you Hamza.

Tom_Weiland
Tom_Weiland

Who sold their soul?  Hamzy didn't HAVE to play in the NFL; he didn't HAVE to make millions of dollars in a sport based on huge men smashing into each other repeated for three hours at a time. I love watching this sport, but if any one of them that wants to walk off the field for good, no one has you shackled to a bench. Go schlep a regular job like the rest of us for a living... YOU F-ING WHINER!!!

Bucky182
Bucky182

He should heed his own hashtag advice, he's delusional. I do agree that the NFL should provide counseling at no cost to the player upon finishing his career but the rest of his diatribe, come on! It IS the choices of the player whether they go broke. You and only you are responsible for the choices you make. If simple high school and college math couldn't teach you about money than that blame lies squarely on your shoulders, not the shoulders of the NFL or Roger Goodell. Nice woe-is-me attitude toward the Combine. A slave trade in which your freedoms are stripped? You kidding me? Join the Marines or any other branch of the military and tell me basic training doesn't strip more of your freedom and dignity. This guy is delusional.

Cool
Cool

Sure happy that it identified who was sending the tweets, because for a second I thought it was Bo Pelini ranting about Nebraska fans.

Huskerstildeath
Huskerstildeath

here is a crazy idea, maybe players should pay a bit more attention when they are in college on how to use their money. Funny, you will notice that very few players that played in the B1G are getting in all these nonsense, cause they care about academics. Be accountable for your finances, you are responsible for your money and your well being. Another stupid rant.

Ciscos
Ciscos

Being angry is one thing, being angry without a rationale why is another. 

I won't lambast the Nation of Islam because, absent the profane arc of their message at times, they actually do good work in their communities.  It's members are largely law abiding, family focused, and believe in self reliance.  

However, for him referencing the NFL and the slave trade in the manner in which he did probably has that appearance to him - and I can understand why he may feel that way.  

At the NFL combine, away from the camera's, athletes are required to strip down to their underwear where team execs/scouts look them over like cattle. Doctors pick and probe them like lab specimens. If you've never seen this part of the process, it is very unsettling to see as well as experience.  To get a sense of what I'm talking about there are several gladiator movies and tv episodes (Spartacus, Blood and Sand) that mimic this process, unscientifically.  Throw in modern science and you can see how much more unnerving it can be.  But this is part of the process a college football player who has dreams of playing in the NFL (which they all do, DI, DII, DIII doesn't matter) signs up for.  And in that, I find it hard to be sympathetic to his rant.

Perhaps when he's calmed down, he can provide more insight into why he went off.

donald5
donald5

F— you NFL because you are the plantation and WE are the slaves!!!

I guess they are the first slaves in the history of the world to be paid millions of dollars and be allowed to freely walk away from their owners at a moment's notice.  I do appreciate a little hyperbole every now and then but the comparison would be merely laughable if it were not so insulting to all the true victims of slavery throughout history.  

John299
John299

" It’s not poor choices by the player"

The only players broke after playing several seasons in the NFL are idiots with large entourages that spend money as though they would earn millions per year for the rest of their lives. Slave trade? Give me a break. 

JimKirkwood1
JimKirkwood1

I think he has some legitimate gripes, but most all combat veterans have similar anxieties and probably a lot worse. For those of us who served in the Vietnam era, most were draftees and we returned to a country that was certainly not grateful. Seems to me that's a lot closer to slavery that voluntarily signing a fat football contract

sjaudey
sjaudey

I would posit that most pro athletes that go broke have no one to blame but themselves.  Its one thing to go broke paying for medical bills but its another to give everyone in your family a new BMW.  

And if you're a defensive player with brain injuries its more often than not your own fault for tackling the wrong way.  No one told you you have to run full speed at a receiver and try to jar the ball loose instead of just bringing him down with a wrap up tackle.

WHO*IS*ESPN
WHO*IS*ESPN

I knew the muslim scum dogs would go jihad on Roger sometime.  but I never knew muslim scum cursed like that.  Guess his towel is rapped too tight around his head.  Now he can go abroad to his muslim home and blow himself up ......to get his virgins in heaven.

BTW muslim, who made YOU play football? arrogant prick

cardogpush
cardogpush

good rip the greedy owners  that extort municipalities & fan bases  into building stadiums for their usage 

 the same owners that would willingly shut down the league 2 years ago to force the players to submit to a horrible deal 

 rip the commish for his stupid rules that undermine the quality of the game and overprotect qbs over other players - because they allege the qbs are the stars - the best thing that ever happened to the patriots  was getting their franchise qb injured mo lewis started a dynasty when he jacked up drew bledsoe. 

the league is too ignorant to see the difference between instituting a concussion policy (great thing) and  outlawing high contact that leads to career threatening knee injuries basically weekly . The truth liekly is the huge amount of long term damage to many of the current retired platyers is done from playing on carpeted concrete also know as astroturf

 After decades of hiding the consequences of head shots they outlaw them entirely forcing guys to blow up guys knees or get fined .At the very least instead of battling the retired layers the league should have just budgeted 1 % a year to care for retired layers and used all fine monies from the goodell fine the world campaign for the same purpose. 

 If he used all the ridiculous fine money for guys not pulling their socks up high enough or wearing the wrong colored shoes he could have taken care of the guys who gave themselves up and can no longer pull up their own socks or put on their own shoes   

 There is a happy medium and you would assume that a room full of billionaires would be wise enough to find a solution  without turning the league into flag football arena league only worried about becoming basketball on grass .

M20
M20

The NFL will be more or less gone in 20 years. This kind of stuff is only happening more frequently. We've barely scratched the surface.

thatmanstu
thatmanstu

Yet another alarm,sounded clearly for all to hear,and for most to ignore.....

Pat11
Pat11

So tired of every other article on NFL being about either a former player complaining the NFL didnt do enough to protect player OR a current player complaining about its turning into flag football. Sorry guys cant have it both ways. These fools blow way more money in 5 years then most of Americans earn in a lifetime and we are supposed to feel sorry for them, think not. The NFL should with hold at least 30% of players income and put it into 401K's for them because they have shown they cant handle themselves financially. To this player I say F___ You if you think the NFL should be responsible for you for blowing your $ on fast cars and women.

PatColl
PatColl

Did I miss something or was this dude forced against his will to play football?????  Slaves didn't have a choice.. you did.  Also, there is something called a collective bargaining agreement between the league and the players that both sides have to agree to.  Now, it is true in the past, long before Godell was commisioner that the league may have hid the long term effects of playing and they do deserve some criticism for that.  But, that was settled with the payout and it is time to move on.  What is wrong with this guy???? I suppose maybe playing did make him crazy so maybe in a way he is proving his point,... I dont know.....

George
George

Make 'em play without helmets ...

SOLVED!


:D


Serena
Serena

Take away the helmets and the pads ban hit's above the shoulders and below the knees and the game will be more safe with less injuries.

Players will need to learn how to actually tackle instead of ram players down but they will adapt if they want to save their brains

MidwestGolfFan
MidwestGolfFan

Eli Herring, a BYU standout, was projected to be a first-day pick.  He didn't want to play on Sundays, told the NFL that, and walked away.  The Raiders tried to talk him into changing his mind after picking him in the sixth round, but Herring wouldn't budge. That was that.  He never so much as set foot into an NFL training camp.

It can be done.  It has been done. No one is forcing anyone to play in the NFL.  Don't like the risks?  Walk away.  There are probably guys standing in line behind you to take your chance.

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

There was an article that Richard Sherman of the Seahawks wrote that I enjoyed. He knows the risks, took responsibility, and doesn't want pity. Football players put their health on the line and live hard, just like construction guys and the infantry. I respect that. Not everyone cares about living to 80. 

Abdullah crying about the opportunities he had that almost every one of us regular joes would give anything for is pathetic. The NFL is an employer, just like Walmart or the US Army-not a babysitter for a grownass man.

StevenTanner
StevenTanner

@leon1376 ~ You're missing the point.  The NFL did everything in its power to cover up its own investigations into brain damage.  Mostly, it was about money and their unwillingness to spend cash on former players who didn't make a whole lot of money but still ended up damaged.  Have a little empathy.

donald5
donald5

@Huskerstildeath  Studies say that about 78% of NFL players end up bankrupt or broke. Do you have any empirical evidence to back up your implication that "very few" Big10's athletes are measurably less likely to be in that 78% or was your comment based on subjective observation or anecdotal evidence?  

Naoman
Naoman

@Ciscos he doesn't belong to NOI, he's a Muslim. As in, orthodox Islam.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@John299 ~ Not quite... a lot of players go broke because they make poor business investments, rather than sound ones.  Others have money stolen from them because they give "Power of Attorney" rights to their financial planner (an athlete earning millions should never give PoA to anyone) and finally, yes a third go broke because of what you described.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@WHO*IS*ESPN ~ African American Muslims, like himself, are probably more acute to being under the wing of the Nation of Islam... they practice a slightly different version of the Koran than those of the middle east.  They do not wear towels around their heads, nor do they subscribe or hijack the Islamic faith to the radicalism of those radicals in the middle east. I'm not sure if you're just being flippant or are confusing him and his faith with Sikhs, who themselves, are some of the most peaceful people on earth.

ChrisMcCoy
ChrisMcCoy

@WHO*IS*ESPN If there is an arrogant prick here, it is the one making this all about his religion instead of his predicament. He is an AMERICAN father of 3. He is married. He is a good family man. Only a p-rick would care which building he walks in to to pray to a man floating in the clouds.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@cardogpush ~ That is by far the best, and most well thought out argument for why the NFL finds themselves in the position that they're in.  Great post!  You need to copy and send that sucker to the NFL.  Not that they're going to do anything different because we know why (greed), but at least they'll know not all of their fans are indifferent to the plight of former players.

Well F'n said!

M20
M20

@ChrisCastleman So what you're saying is that you've never been in an American history class. Because there were lots of Muslim slaves in the US.

ScottNunn
ScottNunn

@ChrisCastleman Dude, a significant percentage of slaves were Muslim.  Why don't you at least do a quick search before you say something completely ignorant.

M20
M20

@Pat11 Once you get past the stars, NFL salaries aren't that great. Especially considering their earning window is like 8 years.

donald5
donald5

@Serena You should probably read about the history of football before pads and helmets.  I think the historical data will show you that it will NOT be more safe with less injuries.

riefferd
riefferd

@MidwestGolfFan - The NFL represents a major change in quality of life for the players and their families - of course they are going to embrace the risk; no different than a pilot accepting the associated risk from constantly flying. Your example was of a person not playing because of religious conviction, it's not the same; furthermore I'd be interested in knowing if he comes from a position of poverty. Just like you expect to be taken care of after you've retired from a company, NFL players deserve that same treatment.

cardogpush
cardogpush

@M as in Mancy 

 pretty sure if you get a debilitating injury working at walmart or the US ARMY  they will take care of you after the employment is completed

atepper001
atepper001

@Ciscos @John299 his point is the same, it is their fault, no one else's. accountability for one's decisions.

Naoman
Naoman

@Ciscos this is conjecture. This man is not under the wing of NOI, a group that is quickly shrinking in number, and vastly different from mainstream Muslims. This isn't the 70s/80s anymore, and the statement you made about Black Muslims largely belonging to NOI is no longer true. He is a regular Muslim, as are most African American Muslims today.

donald5
donald5

@ChrisMcCoy @WHO*IS*ESPN 

I like how you call him a prick and then slip in the typical prick atheist statement "man floating in the clouds".  

It is funny how you demand that he respect the man's religion and then insult everyone in the world who believes in a deity.  You see any sort of incompatibility between those two themes?

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

@M20 @Pat11 "NFL salaries aren't that great". How about you give us your definition of "not great"? 

MikeKing
MikeKing

@M20 @Pat11 Yes because $500K annually just not what it use to be.  So if they last 3 years they make 1.5 million.  The average income for us normal people being around 50K annually would take us 30 years to earn that total amount of money.  Yea, can see how they struggle so much.  

M as in Mancy
M as in Mancy

@cardogpush @M as in Mancy For debilitating injuries, there is something called workers' comp and federal disability. Beyond any liability, Walmart doesn't need to "take care" of anyone. The VA takes care of guys, the Army employs them. The NFL still pays guys on IR their game checks and the CBA says teams can't cut a player solely because of injury. 

Outside of that, don't look to the employer for help. That's role is for his fellow players, charity organizations, church, friends and family, etc.

Ciscos
Ciscos

@atepper001 @Ciscos @John299 ~ Atepper, his point is what he said, "entourages." He was very specific. Unfortunately, mismanagement of their money, more than their posse, is the reason they go broke - not a group of people hanging around being leaches.

Daystrom2013
Daystrom2013

I happen to know a sikh(an inlaw) who resides in Canada and the woman is one of the most profane anti-christian/anti American persons I have ever met.The only ones who have hijacked the muslim faith are the ones who don't practice jihad or oppress the masses. The muslims who kill innocents,such as the recent massacre in Africa at the shopping mall owned by Jews, are the real orthodox muslims practicing their faith according to Mohammed's teachings. Mohammed, who married a six year old and consummated the marriage when she was 9, was friendly to the jews and christians until they rejected his teachings. Those who have hijacked the so called religion of peace are the ones who don't practice wiping out the infidels or imposing a dhimmi tax, they are much like those who profess to be Christian but in reality if they were brought into a courtroom on charges of being a Christian they would have to be let go because there wouldn't be enough evidence to convict them. And a country doesn't have to be overtaken by force, it can be done by having more children than the citizens of the particular nation and eventually voting themselves into rule. It's happening in England,France and many portions of this country(see MIchigan and Minnesota). You want to see Islam, go to Saudi Arabia and openly carry a Bible and see what happens,Wake up!

Naoman
Naoman

@MidwestGolfFan any mainstream U.S. historian can tell you that a very significant percentage of the slaves brought to this country were Muslim. Most of those families lost that religion generations later and became Christian. The reversion to Islam by many descendants of African American slaves today has been partly to honor that original heritage. Mr. Abdullah is not claiming that his ancestors were Muslim slaves, but most likely they were slaves. He is a Muslim now, but what has that to do with his family roots in slavery?