It was the third roster transaction in a news release sent on the second day of NFL free agency.
Because it was a business transaction and the NFL is business.
But in the excitement of the Miami Dolphins re-signing wide receiver Kenny Stills and defensive end Andre Branch and extending safety Reshad Jones, this name should not be forgotten.
The statement described his release from the club as simply “waived/failed physical.”
The truth is, at the age of 27, due to a neck/shoulder injury, Abdul-Quddus is not expected to play football again.
As it was described to me, Abdul-Quddus’ injury was unfortunate and unusual, even for a football player. It was the type of injury that usually occurs after a car crash.
One play. One snap. On a Christmas Eve day in Buffalo. The reason why NFL players often say they aim to play each snap as if it’s their last. Because, literally, it may be.
This is also the reason why some of us should pause before flexing our Twitter, Facebook and Instagram muscles, proclaiming that Player X “in no way deserves that $8 million a year contract! Ridiculous!”
Because, frankly, these NFL players should collect every penny they can get.
And none of us should begrudge it. For look at the risk they take.
Abdul-Quddus was an underrated safety. Last year, he flinched when I told him I might write he was one of the most underrated safeties in the NFL.
“Yeah, they’ve been saying that for a while,” Abdul-Quddus said with a smile.
“New idea,” I told him the next day. “What if I write, ‘It’s time to stop calling Abdul-Quddus underrated!'”
Abdul-Quddus has a warm, pleasant, humble demeanor.
In the same way Dolphins star safety Reshad Jones is confident, yet has humility, in part because Jones was a fifth-round draft choice.
Abdul-Quddus had an uphill climb, too, originally signed as an undrafted free agent by the Saints in 2011. After five NFL seasons in which he had started a total of 16 games, the Dolphins identified Abdul-Quddus’ potential.
And they were right. Abdul-Quddus started 15 games as a Dolphin and was quite good. Abdul-Quddus had a career-high 49 tackles and matched a career-high with two interceptions.
He was a hard hitter, not afraid to put his body on the line.
“Enforcer,” Dolphins cornerback Byron Maxwell told me.
After the Abdul-Quddus injury, some teammates privately told me that when they see the type of collision that ended his season, they think about their own longevity and mortality.
Though Abdul-Quddus told me it was just a stretched nerve in his neck and that for sure, he would play again, others were concerned. In fact, the injury was more serious that originally believed.
The hope here is that Abdul-Quddus’ day-to-day life, without football, is not impaired.
When players talk about how they hope to walk away from the game at the perfect time, while they still have their health, those quotes are often left out of the stories.
Too cliche. Too unlikely. Too dramatic.
Well, not really.
There has been so much discussion, and with good reason, about the concussion issue. Former Dolphins tight end Jordan Cameron, also a thoughtful, intelligent, approachable young man, has had his career ended prematurely due to multiple concussions.
But when players say they know their career could end on any one play, consider please, Abdul-Quddus. Also, please consider, that unlike in other pro sports leagues, NFL contracts are almost never fully guaranteed.
According to the web site spotrac, Abdul-Quddus collected nearly $8 million in six NFL seasons, including $4.25 from the Dolphins last season.
Not every NFL player earns $8 million a season. Consider Abdul-Quddus’ earnings in his first four NFL seasons: $380,000, $465,000, $556,668 and $805,842.
Abdul-Quddus was chasing a dream. And surely he would say he understood and accepted the inherent risks. But we should too.
When I think about Abdul-Quddus, who was a Dolphin for only one season, I’ll think about the smile he almost always brought into the locker room. I’ll think about a few of the key pass breakups he made, oftentimes propelling his body into a receiver to dislodge the ball.
But mostly, I’ll think about a few conversations we had along the way about life. Abdul-Quddus was born in Newark, New Jersey, and I was born in Queens, New York.
Abdul-Quddus is a Yankees fan and I was raised a Mets fan. But we could agree that there was much value in having been exposed to so many diverse Tri-State communities.
I remember Abdul-Quddus taking a sincere interest in my father, who I told him, had attended Fordham University, as he had. And had a love for playing football, as he did.
Abdul-Quddus was sincerely interested in hearing about how I had grown up, my passions and my family. I’ll remember those conversations, in the same way we should remember Abdul-Quddus even if, as expected, he never plays again.
There will be hundreds more free-agent transactions in the coming weeks. Let’s remember that players like Abdul-Quddus are more than transactions.
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