Oday Aboushi already faces an uphill battle in the NFL.
A fifth-round rookie entering the biggest media market in the world, the New York Jets' new offensive linemen should be focused on learning the intricacies and responsibilities of an NFL tackle. Instead, he's forced to defend his political beliefs.
Aboushi's name appeared last Tuesday in a story from FrontPage Magazine, a conservative publication that accused the University of Virginia product and Brooklyn native of making anti-Semitic remarks at a pro-Palestine rally. Aboushi, a U.S. citizen who told the Associated Press in May that he was eager to "break that mold and sort of open the door" for Palestinian-Americans in football culture, has viciously slammed the piece, though it has gained traction and was picked up by outlets like Yahoo News since its release.
It's not the first time Aboushi has faced this criticism: In May he was also reported to have made anti-Israel comments on Twitter. Sadly, it's likely not the last time either.
None of the charges against Aboushi have been verified, but that's yet to slow a culture of misunderstanding and misinformation surrounding his transition to the pros. Though the Anti-Defamation League defended Aboushi in a release Friday, the dearth of Palestinian-Americans in pro football coupled with the tightcasting of athletes in the social media area ensures that there's plenty more criticism in store for him.
What can Aboushi do? He's tirelessly expressed pride for his Palestinian-American heritage, but a sport that has only a handful of Palestinian-Americans may not understand exactly what that heritage means. By all accounts, Aboushi's made as many anti-Israel comments as Tom Brady.
Ultimately, Aboushi's only hope is to shut up the critics and play. His career and public image will eventually speak for itself; for now, a malleable rookie will naturally be caught off guard by national media. The Jets have no intention of releasing Aboushi at the moment, and if they do, it'll be due to his play and likely nothing else.
Though Aboushi originally planned to be an ambassador for Palestinian-American football, it seems he may now have the added responsibility of educating certain demographics on the difference between Palestinian-Americans and, as the FrontPage story charges, "radical Muslims." Protecting that difference is a little more important than protecting a quarterback.