Don't let the picture fool you. Although Hamza Abdullah is a beast on the field, he's a very humble guy.
I was recently lucky enough to sit down and talk with Cardinals safety Hamza Abdullah, a few days ago about he and the Arizona Cardinals. After talking with him extensively, I can tell you that he sounds like a genuine, humble kind of guy. I'm glad he's a part of the organization and I hope the Cardinals do re-sign him during the offseason. Right now it's pretty slow as far as Cardinals news, so I would highly recommend reading through the entire interview. A lot of us weren't too familiar with Hamza and I think this will help get a better understanding of who he is.
ROTB: I noticed that you were set to be a 2010 free agent this offseason. Have the Cardinals approached you about a new contract?
Hamza: I think right now we're in such an early stage, the season isn't even over yet, the culmination of the season isn't over yet so, I guess we'll just wait and see. Generally I think the feeling is mutual between myself and the Cardinals, and I just feel like it's a great fit, and I love the guys, I love the coaching, I love the organization, and I want to be back. I think the organization wants me back but its just all the different things that happened in the offseason and hopefully we can just come together and make this thing work.
ROTB: What do you feel your strengths are and what will you bring to the Cardinals secondary or special teams unit next season?
Hamza: I just think I'm a veteran, I've been around a little bit, I've played for two teams now - the Denver Broncos and the Arizona Cardinals. I've been on four teams. I started with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, went to Denver for a long time, then I was with Cleveland last year, and then God blessed me to come to the Cardinals this year. I just think I've been around and I've seen a lot. I'm not going to be the guy that's saying I need to be starting, and I need to be doing this. I'm a team player. Whatever the coaches ask me, I'm going to do it. If he asks me to go out and play one play, I'm going to do it. If he asks me to be inactive, I'm going to do it. I'm going to do whatever it takes to help us get to that next level because last year the Cardinals lost the Super Bowl, and this year we ran into a New Orleans Saints team that was just was a very good football team. We want to be that team. We want to be that very good football team, where we're having the divisional playoff game at our house. That would be nice.
ROTB: You saw and played in the last two playoff games and you had a ton of a tackles in the Saints game. You also saw how opposing teams had a lot of success passing against the Cardinals. What was the primary reason the secondary struggled at times during the playoffs?
Hamza: I think the reason we struggled were just things that we can control. It was either not communicating with the corners and the safeties. As a defensive secondary, when we make mistakes it's six points - it's big plays. When the defensive line makes a mistake it's a four or five yard gain. When the linebackers make a mistake, it's a ten yard gain. When the secondary makes a mistake, it's touchdowns. Those are the things that are critical, those are the things that we can fix, we just have to get back to the basics, get back to the fundamentals, get back to the things coaches often teach us through training camp. If we can just do that and just hone our skills, and keep each other accountable - if someone sees me slacking or not doing what I'm supposed to be doing, they'll pull me up and say Hamza, you're not doing this, ok well I'm going to get it done. And things like that, just being more accountable.
ROTB: You were able to play along side Adrian Wilson, who also is a strong safety. What was it like and were you able to learn anything important from him?
Hamza: Oh man, did I learn anything? I could talk to you about two or three hours just strictly on that. Adrian Wilson is a great safety obviously. He made the all pro team this year, he's a perennial pro bowler, and he's a guy that I admired from a far being on the Broncos, and being able to play against them every year in the preseason, I'd always watch to see what he was doing. It's just a privilege. I really believe that God has blessed me to not only be with a great organization but to learn from a veteran like Adrian Wilson. To be honest with you, it doesn't get better then Adrian Wilson.
ROTB: What are your plans for the offseason? Do you stay in Arizona or will you be traveling anywhere?
Hamza: I actually go back to Southern California, that's where my mother lives. I'm going to get back to working out. My brother - Husain Abdullah - plays for the Minnesota Vikings. Hopefully I'll have my brother with me, I'll have my college roommates, a few other guys that I went to school with, and we can just get after it(working out) just because the offseason is non stop and you have to get better because if you're not getting better, you're getting worse.
ROTB: You've been in the league a few years now, so who do you try to mold you're game after? Is it Adrian Wilson and would you strive to be like him one day?
Hamza: Well I try to take different pieces of different peoples games. I was fortunate enough to come up in Tampa Bay and we had Germaine Phillips and Dexter Jackson - they were the starting safeties. And I was also fortunate enough to go to Denver were we had John Lynch and Nick Ferguson. So I've been around some great guys to learn from and I just try to take a little bit from each one of them. I don't want to be a specialist. I don't want to be a guy who I can only play on first down, or I can only play on 3rd down. Like Adrian Wilson, he can play every down. He can play run, pass, he can play in the box, he can play back deep. You just don't want to have any limitations in your game.
ROTB: I noticed the Cardinals blitzed more during the regular season, but weren't as aggressive during the playoffs. Did it seem like the defense become more conservative during the playoffs?
Hamza: No, I just think you have different game plans. See, when you're playing in the regular season then you're playing against some teams that - not to say they're not very good - but they're not as explosive as the teams you play in the playoffs. Every team in the NFC had a pro bowl quarterback, they had a thousand yard rusher, and a thousand yard receiver. It's different things you have to account for. In the regular season you don't see that as much. In the postseason it's a wider variety, it's a bigger game plan and you kind of just have to call the game how you see fit. Everyone can sit back and say we should've done this and we should've done that, but when you're there, when you're in the trenches you're in the heat of that battle, you really feel like that call that you make is going to be the one. And sometimes it works for you and sometimes it didn't. You know we're going to go back to the drawing board, as players we're going to try to execute the plays a little bit better then what we did last year and I think that will help us all.
ROTB: What's something that Cardinal fans may not know about you? Such as a talent or a hobby?
Hamza: A hobby? (laughs) I love playing video games and I love playing dominos. I think that I'm the best domino player in the world and I tell that to everyone. They always laugh at me and they challenge me. And I play NBA 2K10 on the Xbox 360 and any of the fans that play that are more then welcome to challenge me. I love video games. I come from a big family. I'm one of twelve children. We always kept the competitive nature. We played video games, we played sports, we just had a good time.
(he also told me if anyone wanted to challenge him to get their info and send it to him)
ROTB: Is there someone that you can name that is your hero or inspiration?
Hamza: Oh yeah, that has to be my older brother, Abbas. He's a guy who sacrificed his dream, so that me and my younger brothers and sisters can succeed. Like I said my younger brother plays for the Vikings. I have a sister, she graduated from college. I have another brother at San Diego state, he graduated from college and this is all because of my older brother. So I would definitely have to say him.
I just want to give a big thanks to Hamza Abdullah for taking the time to interview with Revenge of the Birds and talk to the fans. He was great and I hope we do see him with the team next season. I should have a few more interviews to come, maybe as early as later this week.