Vikings' Abdullah headed to the White House
Husain Abdullah (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)
Husain Abdullah (Jed Jacobsohn/Getty)
Posted Aug 9, 2011

Vikings safety Husain Abdullah will miss practice Wednesday – so he can dine at the White House. There he will eat iftar – the evening meal when Muslims break their fast during the Islamic month of Ramadan – with President Obama and other dignitaries.

MANKATO, Minn. – It's not every day that a starting safety gets an excused absence from a training camp practice.

Then again, it's not every day the excuse is an invitation to dine with the President of the United States.

Minnesota Vikings safety Husain Abdullah will fly to Washington, D.C., Wednesday morning, where he'll meet his brother, Hamza, a safety for the Arizona Cardinals. The two of them were invited to the annual Iftar dinner Wednesday night at the White House to celebrate Ramadan, a holy month in the Muslim calendar.

Abdullah, a fourth-year pro from Washington State, was caught off-guard by the invitation – he said he didn't even know who nominated him and his brother for the honor.

"I actually met a guy a couple of months ago who directed a movie called 'Fordson: Faith, Fasting and Football," Abdullah said Tuesday. "He was telling me about it, so I don't know if he put in a word or what have you. I have no clue. I'm just excited to go."

Iftar is the meal that Muslims eat at sundown, when they break their day-long fast during Ramadan. President Obama has hosted an annual ceremonial Iftar celebration each year since he took office, inviting members of Congress and his administration to dine with members of the Muslim community and ambassadors from predominantly Muslim nations.

Like all Muslims, Abdullah fasts – no food or water – from sunrise to sunset during Ramadan, which this year runs from August 1-29. Over the course of his career, Abdullah has worked with Vikings trainers to develop a dietary plan to keep him fueled for the often grueling training camp schedule.

"I'll hydrate, (and at) 2 a.m. get a protein shake, kind of a meal-replacement thing, and I'll eat some food if I've got it," Abdullah said. "Then just have dinner and breakfast. … It takes some mental toughness. I'm starting to get used to it. I've been doing it since I was 7 – I'm 26 now. It's not overly difficult."

Vikings coach Leslie Frazier said he didn't have to think twice about excusing Abdullah from Wednesday's practice schedule.

"Well, for this occasion, no – a chance to meet the President and go to the White House?" Frazier said. "I told him I hope next February or May or whenever it is, we'll be going as a team. But we're excited for him – it's a tremendous opportunity and a great honor."

But there's one person in Abdullah's life who has mixed feelings about his trip.

"I actually talked to my wife – I was so excited and she was like, 'Is there a plus-one?' " Abdullah said. "But it didn't say so."

Patrick Donnelly writes for Donnelly has spent the last 15 years covering the Minnesota sports scene for such outlets as The Associated Press, and Viking Update magazine. He's also co-author of The Student-Athlete's College Recruitment Guide (Checkmark Books, 2009).

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