KC's Abdullah, Miami's Gibson borrow an idea

MIAMI GARDENS, Florida – Husain Abdullah plays football, but on Sunday the Kansas City Chiefs safety borrowed a long-standing idea from futbol to celebrate the fact he and fellow Washington State alum Brandon Gibson, a receiver with the Miami Dolphins, were knocking heads for the first time in seven years.

They marked the occasion by exchanging jerseys after the game, which is traditionally a sign of respect in soccer.

‘It’s real special to play with someone in college and then see him in the NFL,” Abdullah told Cougfan.com. “We were joking after (Sunday’s) game that we hadn’t played against each other since spring ball in 2007.

“To have this opportunity is a blessing.”

Abdullah and Gibson started their Sunday early, meeting for breakfast at 7 a.m., which was nine hours before kickoff. Abdullah doesn’t remember what restaurant Gibson took him to, but he can clearly recall the main topic of conversation.

“We said, ‘Hey, we’re not going to be taking it easy on each other’,” Abdullah said. “He was going to be coming for me, and I was going to be coming for him.”

Abdullah won the overall battle by virtue of the Chiefs’ 34-15 victory over the Dolphins. Gibson wasn’t very successful individually, either, catching only one pass for three yards. He was targeted four times, and one was a drop that would have produced a first down.

Abdullah (6-0, 204 pounds) and Gibson (6-0, 210 pounds) butted heads a few times on running plays, too.

“I say it might have been an even match today,” Gibson said. “Unfortunately, we didn’t win. His team played better today.”

Abdullah said Gibson kept his breakfast-club promise and came after him.

“There was one time when he tried to crack back on me – he almost got me,” said Abdullah, 29. “It was fun to be able to compete against one of my good friends, one of my brothers.”

Abdullah, who is two years older than Gibson, said he remembers the current Dolphins receiver when he was a freshman at Washington State.

“I knew right away that he was going to be in the NFL one day,” Abdullah said. “We used to have deep conversations 'til 2 or 3 in the morning, talking about life, talking about football, talking about our dreams of playing in the NFL.

“So when I see him, it’s like family.”

Abdullah obviously has a keen eye for talent because Gibson is a tremendous athlete – he was good enough to dabble in basketball at Washington State and left the school as the Cougars’ all-time leading receiver in football.

Gibson, selected by the Philadelphia Eagles in the sixth round of the 2009 NFL Draft, is in his sixth season in the league and has made 42 starts. He has two years of 50-plus catches, both with the St. Louis Rams, in 2010 and 2012.

“I’m a big fan of his,” Abdullah said of Gibson, who has 12 career TDs. “We’ve trained together in the offseason down in L.A. He’s just gotten better every year.

“He's had a great career – he’s been slowed by injuries a bit, but to make it to Year Six in the NFL, that’s a big accomplishment ….”

Gibson said he views Abdullah as a big brother.

“We’ve been close ever since I got to school in ’05,” Gibson said. “I really do appreciate him, and I thought it was cool that we got to compete against each other today.”

Abdullah, who has five career NFL interceptions along with 2.5 sacks and one touchdown, hasn’t had an easy road in the league. He was signed by the Minnesota Vikings as an undrafted free agent in 2008.

He was a starter in 2010 and 2011 with the Vikings but made the courageous decision to skip the 2012 NFL season. He and his older brother Hamza are devout Muslims, and they used 2012 to take a pilgrimage to Mecca.

Abdullah returned to the NFL in 2013, signing with the Chiefs, and he has re-emerged as a starter again this season.

Besides winning games, Abdullah is on a mission to collect jerseys of former Washington State players who have made the NFL.

So far, he has Gibson, defensive back Eric Frampton, who played last year for the New Orleans Saints, and his brother Hamza Abdullah, a former NFL safety who played in the league as recently as 2011.

On Abdullah’s “jersey wish list” are two more former Cougars: Detroit Lions fullback Jed Collins and Arizona Cardinals defensive back Deone Bucannon.

Abdullah and Bucannon should be able to exchange jerseys on Dec. 7, when the Chiefs visit the Cardinals.

In the meantime, the jerseys Abdullah already owns are soon to be displayed prominently in his home.

“They are going to be all over the place,” he said. “We have a loft, a game-room type thing, and we’ll just stack them up there. I’ve got to jazz it up for my fellas.”

Abdullah said he still follows Washington State (1-3) and seemed encouraged by Saturday’s nail biting 38-31 loss to No. 2 Oregon.

“They started off slow this season, but with (Coach) Mike Leach’s offense, they are in every game,” Abdullah said. “It’s just a matter of pulling out the close ones. There is a lot of parity in the Pac-12. They just have to dig down deep and pull out the close ones.”

As Abdullah finished talking, he slipped on a T-shirt, and — naturally — it was a Washington State one.

“We never forget where we came from,” Abdullah said of he and his fellow Cougars.

“We had humble beginnings, but we made some life-long friends at Washington State. We are even talking about getting all the fellas and going back up there for a golf outing.

“We love our Cougs.”


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