Safety Husain Abdullah made news for his observance of the Muslim month of Ramadan by fasting during daylight hours. Diet is an important part of any NFL player's routine, and denying himself food and water when the sun is up during Ramadan was a religious statement Abdullah was committed to.
It's no surprise, then, that Abdullah was supportive of Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow when we asked him about the former Florida Gators' public proclamation of Christianity, despite the obvious differences between the two religions.
"I actually think it's great. I love meeting people that are religious," Abdullah said this week. "(Defensive coordinator Leslie) Frazier is very religious. Eric Frampton, we always talk about religion, talk about God all the time. I actually love people who ponder about God, ask questions about God and just own up to God. I really can appreciate people who are religious people."
Tebow fits that mold. In addition to his throwing mechanics being hyper-analyzed at the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., Tebow was a lightning rod for controversy there because of an anti-abortion ad he filmed with his mother that was scheduled run during the Super Bowl.
"I definitely didn't think it would have this much hype and that much buzz. But it's something that I believe in and I'll stand up for," Tebow said in January while defending the placement of the ad running during the Super Bowl. "It's me and my mom showing our love for each other. That's pretty much what it's about."
Tebow showed during those tough media sessions that he is a man of his convictions. Whether he was being questioned about his changing mechanics or his steadfast religious beliefs, he answered most questions with a disarming smile and a determined answer. He certainly didn't seem like a player willing to change his beliefs or hide his feelings when asked about them by NFL teams during the pre-draft interview process.
"I think, if anything, they like that I took a stand with what I believe. If they don't, if that's something that would hesitate them from bringing me on, then it probably wouldn't be a good fit for me in the first place because I'm never going to deny what I believe in and things like that just for a game," he said.
As one of those involved in talking with and observing Tebow during the Senior Bowl, I can attest to the attention he attracts. The Senior Bowl had record crowds this year. I talked with Alabama fans who respected him and Florida fans who seemed to nearly worship him.
Then there are the NFL scouts and analysts who, religion aside, felt he was a flop waiting to happen if drafted too early with the pressure of trying to make him NFL ready too soon. After a week of observing him in Mobile at practices, I couldn't see him as anything more than a third-round pick because of elongated throwing motion that would seem to invite NFL cornerbacks to jump route after route. The Denver Broncos obviously disagreed, moving up to select him in the first round, and now the Vikings will see plenty of Tebow tonight.
He has worked on those mechanical issues since January and supposedly cleared some of them up, but will they revert back during game situations? We might not know that until he is pressured consistently by NFL defenders.
We can be pretty sure that he isn't going to change his public religious proclamations anytime soon, and one NFL defensive back can appreciate that approach.
"You probably can't please everybody. But your faith is your faith," Abdullah said. "The way you worship God, that's the way you worship God. (Some) people feel more strongly about it than others."
Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this story on our subscriber message board.
Tebow, throwing mechanics and religion
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