A native of Los Angeles, California, Abdullah grew up with eleven siblings and attended Pomona High School, where he was recognized as a standout athlete in football, basketball and golf. He then attended Washington State University (WSU) and according to CBS Sports, as a senior, he collected 8.5 tackles for loss, intercepted a team-high four passes, had six pass break-ups, a forced fumble and a blocked kick.
Abdullah was a three-year starter at WSU, until signing as an undrafted free agent with the Minnesota Vikings in 2008. During his time in Minnesota, from 2008-2011, Abdullah recorded 167 tackles (111 solo), including six for loss, two sacks, four interceptions and 11 passes defended.
“I was able to go to Minnesota and started off as a special teams player, but eventually worked my way up to become a starter,” Abdullah explained. “It was a great experience and such a blessing.”
After playing in the league for four years, he took a season off. In 2012, Abdullah, a practicing Muslim, spent some time in Mecca for Hajj, a Muslim pilgrimage. Abdullah’s parents, two brothers and his wife also made the trip.
“It was something that you really can’t put into words,” Abdullah said. “It was a time period in my life that I will always look back on and cherish. It’s something I’m grateful for and I think it made me a better person.”
When he and his family returned from their pilgrimage, he and his brother Hamza, an eight-year NFL veteran, knew there was a lot of work to be done.
“After we got back from our pilgrimage, we went back to working out and it was rough,” Abdullah said. “Eventually we worked our way back into shape. Late 2012, my agent called saying there were teams interested, but then no one wanted to take me because I missed OTAs and training camp and I took a year off, so they were skeptical and didn't think I could contribute right away.”
Not long after, the Chiefs signed Abdullah and he quickly needed to learn a new defense with a new defensive coordinator, teammates and in a new city.
“Last year, I was trying to learn everything I possibly could and work hard,” Abdullah noted. “You forget how fast-paced the NFL is, but this year I’m settling in. I know the coaches, the team, the culture and the expectations. This year, it’s night and day.”
After the 2013 season, Abdullah was a free agent, until the Chiefs resigned him in March 2014. Abdullah noted that he wanted to stay in Kansas City and was glad to be a part of an incredible organization.
“I’m very excited to be back,” Abdullah said. “Kansas City was the first team to call me and the first team to give me a shot, then them being aware of who I am and of me as a person and not just another guy…I like Kansas City. My family likes Kansas City...I really like it in Kansas City.”
Abdullah and his wife, Zhavon, have been married for eight years and have two children, Jalaal and Kameela.
“I met my wife freshmen year of college and got married when I was 20-years old,” Abdullah commented. “We had our son Jalaal my senior year of college and my daughter Kameela right after my rookie year. It’s been so fun and such a blessing to watch them grow up.”
Now that he is back in the swing of things, Abdullah feels more comfortable in the system and said he’s been working closely with
“He’s extremely smart,” Berry said of Abdullah. “One thing I take from him is his work ethic and his attention to detail. He’s very particular about things, especially in his technique. So I’ve just been paying close attention to him and just trying to take notes as much as I can.”
Abdullah’s work ethic and contributions last year, were recognized by his teammates when he was voted one of the six players named team captain for the 2013 postseason. During Kansas City’s AFC Wild Card Game at Indianapolis, Abdullah recorded six solo tackles, two interceptions and two passes defended.
His two interceptions tied a franchise single-game record for postseason contests, becoming the sixth player in team history to accomplish the feat.
“He’s a good player…he’s smart,” Smith said. “He sniffs out what we’re doing and he’s able to get a beat on it. You can’t be late; otherwise, he’s going to make the play. That’s really what I see and I think mentally he does such a good job of recognizing and diagnosing what we’re doing.”
Abdullah says he is still working to improve and wants to rise to another level this season.
“I’m going to sit down before training camp and layout my goals for the season, I want to have clear goals to achieve this year,” Abdullah said. “I want to be a playmaker, I want to be reliable, and I want to be a fire starter, to make a play and get everyone pumped up. I want to impact this team and work with my teammates to achieve our ultimate goal of a championship.”