It took a moment for Hamza Abdullah to think of his biggest highlight of visiting the White House last Wednesday night, before flying cross country back to Oakland to play against the Raiders the next night.
But it came to him.
“This is the highlight,” the safety remembered. “Basically, his personal assistant came to me and said, his exact words, ‘The President cannot wait to meet you. And you’re actually sitting at his table.’ That was the quote of the night.
“He was like, ‘You didn’t know that, huh?’ And I said no, because I opened up my card and it said ‘Table 10.’ So it’s ‘OK, table 10.’ I figured my brother and I were sitting together, but Husain was like, ‘No, I’m at table 9.’ “
Abdullah said there were just eight people at the table — “Very intimate” — and he and President Obama talked like they were old friends. “We’re just like two guys in the basement, talking about whatever they want to talk about,” Abdullah said. “He asked me about fasting when I am practicing, we talked about my brother. At one point, they were passing out the dessert and he said no, and the next two people said no, and the President said ‘Give it to the football player, you know he wants it.’ “
Abdullah (That’s him in the picture below, on the far right, seated) did want the dessert, a sorbet wrapped in a tangerine. There were three courses, all told, “and I cleaned my plate on all of them.”
Abdullah landed in Washington D.C. at 4:30 p.m. Wednesday and immediately decided he needed to buy a watch to go with his suit. After the side trip, he walked to the White House and the gates weren’t open quite yet, so he people-watched, looking at the delegates arrive in their fancy cars and seeing the tourists take everything in. “I was thinking, ‘This is a big deal, man,’ ” Abdullah said.
(Abdullah had heard about the Packers’ Desmond Bishop missing out on his White House chance because he forgot his ID. “That’s pretty cruel,” Abdullah said. “I told my wife, pack my birth certificate, my passport … I have my grade-school ID, just to make sure.”)
It wasn’t until after the game against the Raiders when he felt the experience had sunk in. Game day actually went smoothly, with Abdullah landing at 11:30 a.m. and getting to the hotel for a two-hour nap before needing to leave. He played a lot against Oakland too.
“Once-in-a-lifetime,” Abdullah said. “It was just so humbling. And I continue to say that because it’s something money can’t buy you. You’re not famous, it’s just something where, you are chosen. You feel blessed. The man has a million different things on his plate, but he’s relating to you.”
Tags: Hamza Abdullah, Raiders
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