The last time Matt Ware and Hamza Abdullah were on the same football field together was when they were teammates on the Arizona Cardinals from 2009 to 2011. As part of the Fiesta Bowl Charities program, Ware and Abdullah reunited on the football field on November 8 for the annual Fiesta Bowl Football Camp at the Accelerated Learning Academy campus. However, instead of sacking their opponents, they dedicated their time to teaching Salt River Pima-Maricopa Indian Community youth important lessons that can be applied to life as well as football.
The SRPMIC proudly hosted the football skills clinic for Community youth on the ALA campus field. The former Cardinals defensive duo took questions from the youth regarding their NFL careers as well as how to continue living a healthy lifestyle after retiring. Ware was asked what his 40-yard dash time was presently, and with a smile he quickly replied, “4.38 seconds.”
Abdullah then shared how he was one of 12 siblings and his stepfather wanted to him to learn how to withstand and overcome adversity. “Football was something that brought me and my family closer together,” he said to the kids. “[My stepfather] wanted me to learn how to overcome obstacles and to become a better man. Football was the way.”
A two-sport athlete drafted to play both professional baseball and football, Ware shared with the Community why he chose football over baseball. “Two reasons. Number 1, when there’s 11 guys and we’re all on the same page and the play all comes together, it’s a beautiful thing,” he began. Then he added, “And number 2, I like to hit people.”
Members of the Mesa High School varsity football team were also in attendance helping the Fiesta Bowl staff with the football clinic drill stations. There were eight stations total, all featuring a football activity, as well as a squad huddle with Ware and Abdullah. There was a tackling station using real-life tackling dummies, a 5-on-5 scrimmage drill, a footwork course, a fumble recovery drill and running-back drills for the younger children. Though they both played defense while playing for the Cardinals, Ware and Abdullah showcased their offensive skills by playing the role of quarterback so the youth could focus on running slant routes toward the endzone. The defensive duo ended up throwing a good number of touchdown passes during the football camp clinic, much to the delight of the Community children.