Former NFL QB, Gibran Hamdan Interview
Gibran Hamdan played college football at Indiana University. He entered the 2003 NFL Draft and was drafted in the 7th round. He played in NFL Europe and also was a backup for many NFL teams such as the Redskins, Seahawks, 49ers, Bills. He ended his career with the CFL. He started his own clothing line called, ‘Alial Fital’ and he talks about it in our interview conducted in March of 2011.
Announcement : Hello, my name is Max Strauss with http://prointerviews.org/, http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/ and http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/. I’d like to welcome you to the interview with Gibran Hamdan. Hamdan attended Indiana University playing both baseball and football while he was there. During the 2003 NFL Draft, he was drafted in the 7th round, 232nd overall by the Washington Redskins. Throughout his career, he played with the Redskins, Seahawks, 49ers, Dolphins, and Bills. He also played in NFL Europe with the Amsterdam Admirals. He is the first player of Pakistani descent to play in the NFL. Here is the interview with Gibran, and I hope you enjoy the collages also.
Strauss : Do you have any way for the fans to connect with you?
Hamdan : Well, I guess the best way right now would be that I started a clothing company, we’re web-based/online for a clothing retailer, it’s called Alial Fital. [http://www.alialfital.com/] I have a Facebook page that’s connected with that [http://www.facebook.com/alialfital]. I also have a twitter page [http://twitter.com/alialfital]. I guess those would be the two places where fans can keep in contact with me. Now that I’ve finished playing.
Strauss : Who was your childhood star?
Hamdan : I had a couple. I was mainly a baseball player growing up, so I’d have to say my two childhood stars were Tommy Glavine and Greg Maddux. Those were my two biggest stars on that side, and in addition Jim Thome. Football wise, I really didn’t start playing until I was a senior in high school, but I’d have to say that Steve Young was always one of my favorite players.
Strauss : What was your high school football experience like? You just mentioned that you only played senior year, and what was that like?
Hamdan : It was pretty cool. They just asked me at the last minute to come out and play, the other quarterback had transferred so I decided, “Hey, I need to get my mom’s permission.” I had some baseball scholarship offers on the table, so it was kind of a risk to go play barring injury out there. I always wanted to try football, it was very intriguing to me. I could throw pretty well. My experience was pretty much get in shotgun and try to throw it all over the field, and I think I threw it to the other team as much as I threw it to my team. It was fun. We had a great time. It was a great experience. I really enjoyed it.
Strauss : You played baseball in high school, what position did you play?
Hamdan : I was a first baseman and a pitcher.
Strauss : So… Were you recruited to Indiana to play baseball or football?
Hamdan : I had not played football until my senior year. Well, my junior year I was recruited to play baseball. But, after I started playing football, I kind of told everybody that was recruiting me for baseball that I wanted to play both, and Indiana was one of the few schools that I could play both. I ended up getting a full scholarship for football, but I played both while I was at Indiana.
Strauss : You played how many years of baseball at Indiana?
Hamdan : I played all four years of baseball at Indiana. And, I played five years of football at Indiana.
Strauss : What is your favorite memory from football at Indiana?
Hamdan : It’d have to be a game against Wisconsin. We played Wisconsin, they were ranked 23rd in the country. Obviously, we were pretty big underdogs. I threw a couple interceptions early in the game. I think the coaching staff even thought about pulling me out and benching me. But, we ended up going on to score like nineteen unanswered points and pull out the victory on a last second play. That was probably the coolest football memory.
Strauss : What was the motivation on why you chose football over baseball?
Hamdan : I finished my baseball career and I had a year left of football because I redshirted, and I kind of hit a ceiling. I thought that I didn’t have much higher to go, I was what I was sort to speak. I was 6’4″, 200 pounds, hit 340, and only six home-runs. I never developed the power at the plate and that was obviously a huge deficiency for me especially being a first baseman. It’s not like I had people banging on my door to come play professional baseball either. It was less though that I chose to stop playing, and more-so no one wanted me to play for them anymore. That’s how my career ended in baseball.
Strauss : What was your draft day experience like?
Hamdan : It was great. I didn’t really, at the end of my collegiate career, expect to be playing in the NFL, or get a shot in the NFL. I got contacted by my agent, Buddy Baker. After the season was over, he was like, ‘You know people think you have a chance, you might as well start working out for it.’ So, I put in a lot of work before the draft, I wasn’t invited to the combine. My pro day and a local workout with the Redskins were my only opportunities. I was lucky enough to do pretty well, and Steve Spurrier was interested in drafted me, and he did in Washington. It was pretty exciting for myself and my family, and it was a pretty cool experience.
Strauss : You were the first person of Pakistani descent to play in the NFL, what’s that like?
Hamdan : I think it’s pretty cool. To think about labels that you’re the first person, and then it really isn’t the same. I think the coolest part was, not only Pakistani kids, but a lot of different kids would come up to me, but mostly Pakistani kids would say something to the fact that, ‘My parents did not even know what football was, and they weren’t letting me play, and then, I told them about you, and now I play on my high school team.’ I thought that was pretty cool. I think it’s one thing to be the first Pakistani player, it’s another thing to have a kid be able to play football because his parents find it more acceptable because you’re playing it. That was the coolest part I think.
Strauss : If you could talk about each team you were with in the NFL. Go through your journey.
Hamdan : I started with the Redskins. Steve Spurrier was the Head Coach and I learned quite a bit from him actually. I think the good thing about the two of us was that I was pretty raw and that he could mold me in the way he wanted to. It was a little bit of a shame that he ended up walking away from the Redskins’ job, not only because for him, but for me too. As you may know, the guys that draft you are the ones that like you, and Joe Gibbs in, and truth be told, I really didn’t get a shot to make the team. I didn’t play in the preseason games. They just decided that they did not want me anymore. That was kind of my Redskins’ experience, a lot of highs but the main reason of not getting an opportunity.
Then, I spent time in Seattle, I really enjoyed my time there. I learned a lot about football and a lot about quarterbacking. I made some good friends in Jim Zorn, Matt Hasselbeck, Craig Terrill, and a bunch of other guys there. I really enjoyed living in Seattle. I really enjoyed the experience there. Obviously, being under Mike Holmgren was a huge plus. Experiencing what a Holmgren coached team was like. The 49ers was a cool experience. I wasn’t there very long, but I enjoyed being down there and the city was really awesome. Same could be said for Miami. I wasn’t there long enough to say much about it, but it was a good experience.
I’ll tell you that Buffalo is where I cut my hay a lot at the end of my career. I made some really good friends there. I enjoyed my time with the Buffalo fans, they’re a great core group of fans. It’s pretty impressive throughout the NFL, in terms of what I saw, I thought they were pretty intelligent group of fans, and they knew the game. That was it.
Then, obviously I was sent to play in NFL Europe in Amsterdam. I say for me, that was one of my favorite times of my career, because obviously I got a chance to play. A lot of the things that upset me about the NFL games were not there in NFL Europe. It’s more so about the game, and about the camaraderie, and about your teammates. I loved living in Europe and the friends I made there are special to me.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite memory in the NFL?
Hamdan : I had a lot of memories that I really enjoyed in the NFL. My parents didn’t come to many games, but I guess any time that they came to the game, I remember it being a pretty cool memory. I played in a Hall of Fame Game a couple years ago, and my parents were there, my wife, who we weren’t married at the time, we were just dating, but she was there too. That was really cool that they were there to watch the game and I got to play. That was fun. That was a pretty good memory. Then, in NFL Europe, some of my most fondest memories. We played some great games over there, and had a great time after the game. I think I have a lot of memories, and I’m lucky to say that.
Strauss : What was it like to travel across the Atlantic and play football?
Hamdan : It was awesome! Like I mentioned earlier, a lot of the things that began to bug me in the NFL in terms of commercial time-outs, and a lot of the business aspect of the league wasn’t as present in NFL Europe because there were no TV timeouts. There weren’t magazine covers. Financially, the league didn’t do too well. What it became was just about pure football and pure friendship and we also lived in the hotels with other guys, so it brought back that college atmosphere aspect of it to where you practice hard and then, you go have a good time with the guys that you’re practicing with and playing with. For me, There wasn’t anything really not to like about. I really enjoyed every aspect of it.
Strauss : In 2006, you were the NFL Europe Offensive MVP, would you take me through what happened that season?
Hamdan : We had a great year. It was one of those things that I’ve been on the team a couple times and I knew the coaching staff really well. I knew the offense really well to the point where I was able to hear myself call the plays at the line of scrimmage. I had Skyler Fulton on one side and Chad Lucas on the other side. They were two exemplary receivers. Our offensive line was kind of a veteran group for being over there. A lot of them had been there before and knew each other which was a big positive. I unfortunately, got hurt in the seventh game of that season. I was able to put up the numbers I was only playing in seven games. I think that was a pretty significant accomplishment to win the MVP and not finish out the season. I also played that seventh game on an entirely broken ankle, and we were able to pull it out at the end of the game. I think it was really cool experience and a really optimistic thing to be named MVP over there. It meant a lot to me.
Strauss : Did you have a nickname while you played?
Hamdan : Oh my G-d, yeah. How many… I had more than one. That’s for sure. You know I can’t even seem to think, there were just so many. Trent Dilfer liked to call me, “The thirsty camel.” What else was I called? “The Palestinian Rocket.” They called me, “Gibby”. There were a lot of names.
Strauss : Throughout your football career, who had the most impact on it?
Hamdan : You know I’d have to say a guy named Al Bourges, he was my offensive coordinator at Indiana, and now he’s the Offensive Coordinator University of Michigan. He was my Quarterbacks’ coach and Offensive Coordinator at Indiana. I think he had a huge influence. There was a time when he was there, later on in my career, where I was thinking about transferring, and I asked him his opinion, and he was really honest with me. He convinced me to stay. If I transferred, my transcript would have looked a lot different, so Al Bourges was extremely instrumental in my career.
Strauss : Why did you start an online store?
Hamdan : Well, it’s more so, that the online store is a vehicle to get my products to the consumer. I would say I started my clothing line for two reasons. One, every time I go shopping I’d see the same stuff in stores over and over again, and there was a lack of creativity and uniqueness out there, so I thought could develop a brand that could deliver that. And also, from the standpoint of comfort and fit, I thought that a lot better job could be done on a lot of garments. I could never polo that I could raise my arms in, because they were always not long enough to me, and, you were worried about showing your belly-button if you moved around in it. Because of that, I decided to learn as much as I could about clothing business and how to construct garments, and that’s kind of what happened.
Strauss : How long have you had this company?
Hamdan : We launched January 22nd. I’ve been working on the clothing aspect of it, since July. Just in terms of, building the patterns, picking the fabrics, working on the fit, working on the sizing, and the shape and all that stuff. It’s been a long process and a long journey so far, but it’s been great. We launched the website January 22nd.
Strauss : If you could describe yourself as any ice cream flavor, what would you be and why?
Hamdan : Ice cream flavor… Umm… Boy… I’d have to be what they call it, Moose Tracks. I’d like to think of myself as a vanilla as in terms of a base and in terms of myself, very classic, very just straightforward and honest. I’d have a little artistic side to me which I guess would be the caramel and the little aspects of Moose Tracks, so I guess there’s a little bit of uniqueness there. I guess that’s what I would say.
Strauss : For someone who wants to play in the NFL, what’s the best advice that you can give them?
Hamdan : I would say that [you have] to learn from people that know what they’re doing. In terms of if you find a coach, find someone who can give you advice who knows what they’re doing. By that, I mean if they have had experience coaching players in the NFL, or has the experience that proves that they know what they’re doing. I tried to surround myself with as many people like that as I could. I would work on my fundamentals, constantly working to improve my fundamentals. Understanding that each level I reach, there are twenty or so more people that are better than I am. To never completely be fulfilled with dominating at a level you’re at, because there’s always room for improvement. I’d also suggest that to continue to have fun with it. Don’t get burned out. Don’t work too hard as a youngster because if you play in the NFL, for some guys that would mean playing football for twelve, fifteen, twenty years, if you include pop-warner, high school, college. It’s a long frame of time. It’s a long journey. It’s hard not to get burned out. Work hard when you’re playing, but at the same time, don’t make your entire life about it. Because at any player will tell you at some point, you won’t be play anymore, you’ll have to have other interests and other motivations.
Strauss : Thank you so much for your time Mr. Hamdan. I really appreciate it.
Hamdan : No problem, Max. Take care of yourself.
Announcement : Thank you for listening to the interview with Gibran Hamdan. I hope you enjoyed it. I hope you leave your comments below as well! Please check out my website http://prointerviews.org/ for other interviews, “LIKE” the Facebook page at http://facebook.com/ProInterviews/, and follow me on twitter at http://twitter.com/ProInterviews/, subscribe to me on YouTube at http://youtube.com/ProInterviews/ Thanks again for listening! Stay tuned for more, and feel free to contact me!
->Here are the personal questions that Gibran Hamdan answered.<-
Strauss : If you could meet anyone, who would it be and why?
Hamdan : Wow. Great question. Well, I’d like to meet my grandfather on my dad’s side. I never got a chance to meet him. I’d have a lot of questions for him. There’s a lot of people, but he would be my number one, but just in general, I’ve never met either of my grandparents on my father’s side. That would be cool.
Strauss : Where’d you get the name, “Alial Fital”?
Hamdan : It’s my parents’ names spelled backwards. My dad’s name was Latif, and my mom’s name was Laila, and when you pronounce the names backwards, phonetically, it is “Alial Fital”.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite TV Show?
Hamdan : Yes. I’d have to say it is, “The Mentalist” right now. The main character is Jane, and it’s on CBS, he’s solves crimes, but in a cewky way. He’s a really smart guy.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite movie of all time?
Hamdan : Oh, all of time… I love all movies. I love going to movies. G-d! That’s a tough question! You can’t put me in a corner on this one. I would feel bad answering that and looking back and saying, ‘Nah, I really don’t think that.’ Maybe, I’ll come back to that. I’ll let it simmer a bit.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite genre of movie?
Hamdan : I love all the espionage-spy-thriller-bond movies. Any movies kind of like that, where you’re doing cool things to be the bad guy. And, you know what, I’d have to say Casino Royale, the first Bond in the new run, is pretty awesome man! It’s pretty up there for me. I’ll say that’s my favorite movie right now.
Strauss : Do you have a favorite type of pie?
Hamdan : I would have to say… Apple pie.
Strauss : What would your last meal on Earth be?
Hamdan : That’s a great question. Whew. My last meal on earth… It’d have to be a slice of New York Style Pizza, veggie, then half of a New York bagel, cream cheese, lox, capers, and onions. Then, some really good french fries, and just a great, great filet mignon. Hahaha. For dessert, an Oreo Dairy Queen blizzard at the end of all that.
Strauss : Thank you so much for your time.
Hamdan : Of course, no problem.