It’s been a rough week for Oday Aboushi, a 22-year-old Palestinian-American rookie football player for the New York Jets. As a fifth-round pick in the 2013 NFL draft, Aboushi’s trying to keep his job and earn a place on the team’s final roster. And, as a practicing Muslim, he’s enduring grueling summer workouts while also observing Ramadan. But to top it all off, Aboushi has found himself at the center of a manufactured scandal in which he’s been accused of being an anti-Semite (see background here and here) and compared to former NFL player Aaron Hernandez, who’s sitting in a Boston-area jail accused of murder. The reason? He’s simply proud of who he is and where he comes from.
“This entire episode shows you that as a Palestinian public persona, you have to be quiet about your history, beliefs and views or you will be silenced by attackers who want to bring you down,” wrote CUNY political science professor Yousef Munayyer at The Daily Beast on Thursday.
Aboushi has handled the controversey gracefully. He’s shown gratitude to supporters on Twitter and not taken the bait tossed his way from ignorant critics. Since the uproar has pushed a relatively unknown player into the spotlight, here’s what else you should know about him:
Aboushi is a Brooklyn boy — and proud of it. He was born in Brooklyn in 1991 and graduated from the borough’s Xaverian High School in 2009. One has to assume that he’s ecstatic to be playing for one of his hometown teams.
He’s a really good football player. That much should be obvious since was selected in the NFL draft, but just in case you need more convincing, here are some highlights from his college days at the University of Virginia.
He’s proud of his faith. Aboushi appeared in a 2012 segment on Muslim athletes in America that was produced by the U.S. State Department.