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Abdullah brothers put NFL on hold to pursue faith

NFL free agents Hamza and Husain Abdullah are putting their football careers on hold -- perhaps permanently -- to pursue a higher calling.

The brothers -- both practicing Muslims -- will sit out the 2012 season to speak at mosques across the country this summer before making a pilgrimage to Mecca.

"It has been a blessing to play in the NFL for both Husain and I," Hamza said in a statement, "but we would be remiss if we didn't give thanks to the One who made it all possible."

Added Husain: "I visited Makkah, Saudi Arabia in March and a strong sense of urgency overcame me to attend 'Hajj' in October. I love the game of football but it would directly coincide with my pilgrimage. So, I'm taking some time off."

Husain has turned down contract offers from the Minnesota Vikings and other teams to pursue religious obligations, according to the St. Paul Pioneer Press. Hamza spent the last three seasons with the Arizona Cardinals.

Husain's playing career was in jeopardy before this decision. The Star Tribune reported Abdullah made 24 starts the past two seasons for the Vikings, suffering concussions in his first, fifth, 22nd and 24th starts. He visited a concussion specialist in Pittsburgh to see if he was endangering his long-term health by playing football.

This isn't the first time the brothers' faith has made headlines. Ramadan, the Islamic month of fasting and prayer, typically falls during training camp each year. Despite participating in physically draining summer practices, the brothers did not eat or drink at all during daylight hours for the 30-day period.

Husain has not ruled out a return to football, but he understands his playing future now becomes uncertain.

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