Dropping the ball Muslim American Footballers suspend career for Hajj

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At the height of their careers, two National Football League (NFL) American Muslim brothers, Husain and Hamza Abdullah, were seen “voluntarily” sacrificing millions of dollars when they decided to take an absence leave to head to Mecca.

The two players felt the urgent need to head to Mecca for the annual Hajj pilgrimage “not only to seek greater spiritual fulfillment, but also to nurture a greater tolerance of their Islamic faith,” the U.S.-based television network NBC reported.

When NBC’s correspondent Mary Carillo asked Husain, 27, why did he take decide to go on a trip to Mecca in 2012, he said “it is a long story…Last year, there was a tug war inside in my heart in my soul…something was just drastically missing.”

“We’ve been playing football since we were 8 years old,” Husain told Carillo.

“There’s more to life than this” he said, adding that he and Hamza, 29, felt the same towards deeply needing to do something beyond playing football.

In so doing, Husain, who had become a starter with the Minnesota Vikings, and his older brother, Hamza, an established seven-year veteran last with the Arizona Cardinals, made the decision to flee to Mecca last October.

Being in the middle of Mecca’s pilgrim crowds and spending hours on its roads were all seen by Husain as lessons to teaching him how to “work on patience.”

Accompanied by a NBC team of correspondents to Mecca, the NFL players were seen wearing two sheets of white cloth like any other pilgrims and sleeping on modest beds, in contrary to luxurious hotel services they are accustomed to.

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