Rock Center | November 29, 2012
>>> two american brothers who did something that runs counter to just about every and i wore a kufu, and everybody was like, what kind of hat is that? i'm like, my mom made it. i'm a muslim, this is what we wear.
>> reporter: few would confuse this kind of headwear with the head wear that he's been wearing in the minnesota vikings or mistake the cardinal on the arizona cardinals . their mom chose home schooling, and her husband yusef encouraged the boys to play football, in part so they would keep in touch with the larger world.
>> i didn't want to watch because of the context. but then one day when i did turn around, and they were like, look at him, he's running, and i saw that it was more strategy, and i would watch hamza when he would watch, they would give him the ball, he would run from one field to the next. and i was like, okay, i like strategy. i'm okay with strategy. but i don't like anyone to get hurt.
>> reporter: with mom's blessing, her rising stars went to play at pomona high. teachers hinton and barbara remember the brothers as student arriu -- studious, respectful and athletic.
>> they were respectful with the minority. i think even that showed a lot of strength, a lot of conviction.
>> so good to see you.
>> reporter: when we asked the brothers back to pomona , the reunion was sweet.
>> how's it going?
>> thanks so much for everything you do.
>> reporter: after the coach delivered goodies to these devoted alumni, the brothers recalled days when wearing any primary color might get you mistaken for a gang member . tell me about pomona . this isn't "friday night lights" high school , is it?
>> no, this is in one of the worst neighborhoods. at least, it used to be when we were growing up.
>> i'm proud to be from pomona , but this color right here? i didn't wear this color to school. it was really that serious.
>> reporter: gushing with talent, the abdullahs would each be recruited by the country's elite division i colleges to pac 12 washington state .
>> how did you get a scholarship?
>> the first was prayer and my mother. after i came from high school , i had two years. she said, i'll let you go to high school if you earn a division i championship.
>> what he's leaving out is when he left for college, he was only 16.
>> reporter: yeah, you could have gotten that up a little higher in the story. you were only 16?
>> yes, ma'am. i have one shot to play one year of varsity football, and i have one shot to make it, and due to the grace and mercy of god, we made that happen.
>> reporter: on defense, hamza was an electric ifying player. he was awakened by a teammate at 6:00 in the morning.
>> my brother was a boxer in the navy at the time, and i thought about if someone is attacking america, if someone is attacking my country, my brother is going to be there.
>> reporter: and it must have changed everything for you. how long before people were asking you about your faith, about terrorism, about what you believe?
>> i'm sitting in the dorm room watching a television as a muslim, as an american. and for someone to say that you did it, that's what it was, it was "you did it." i just wanted to ask someone, how did i do it? how am i responsible for this?
>> reporter: like the rest of the nation, the abdullah family of southern california was profounding shocked a inly shocked and sha ken by the distorted view of the 9/11 attackers.
>> my mother raised me you want for your brother what you want for yourself, and put yourself in that other person's shoes.
>> reporter: muslims in america are a tiny minority. 1% of the population. but constantly find an association with their violent extremist fringe.
>> a lot of times that kind of gets lost in translation that islam is our religion, yes, but our country is the united states of america .
>> you're patriots.
>> yes, ma'am.
>> reporter: she met her husband after college and he converted to islam after their marriage.
>> reporter: do people treat you differently now?
>> i get a lot of people don't think i speak english. but other than that, it's not too bad.
>> do they try to speak loudly to you, and slowly?
>> yes, and i'm like -- i'm american. are they talking to me.
>> reporter: during the whole month of rahmadon, muslims rise from sunrise to sunset. the brothers have kept fast their football careers.
>> i've been fasting since age 7, so i have a little bit of experience. i've been fasting and playing football since high school , which was 2002 . every year is a new challenge, and with rahmadon traveling into summer, i would have lost the career before he began. fasting, he made a horrible first impression on the vikings, inexplicably shaking.
>> we said, what's going on, man? we see your play going the other way. he explained the situation to us and i'm like, whoa, we had no idea.
>> reporter: to compensate for date-long fasting, the saints would supercharge the breakfast and dinner.
>> we wanted to put our players in the best possible positions we could, so we looked at it the other way. we thought, what can we do to reach this guy? hamza , an established seven-year veteran, and then they did something unheard of. nfl players with salaries in the range of $1 million leaving the game at their athletic peak. instead 2012 would be devoted to the glory of god, joining an annual concentration of humanity unequalled on the planet. the pilgrimage to mecca.
>> remarkable decision by these two brothers. they'll explain their position to mary and our cameras will follow them on their journey when we come back.