HOUSTON - Mohamed Sanu, one of the few practicing Muslims in the NFL, declined to go into detail about his feelings regarding President Trump's executive order on immigration that bans travelers from seven predominantly Muslim countries. However, the Falcons wide receiver said he expected the topic to be broached Monday during media night at Super Bowl LI.
"Obviously, name is Mohamed," Sanu said. "A lot of people know I'm Muslim. But I'm here because of my football talent, not because I'm Muslim."
Sanu said he preferred to focus on Sunday's game and the Patriots. He said he might address the issue "at another time."
"It's a very tough situation," Sanu said. "I just pray that us as a country and a world can be united as one. It's really hard for me to talk about this now. It would take a lot of time."
The 27-year-old Sanu, who was born in South Brunswick, N.J., and attended Rutgers, lived briefly in Sierra Leone when his mother, Aminata Koroma, returned to her native country. She originally came to America to escape her war-torn African nation. She returned, however, while Sanu stayed.
Sanu said Koroma is expected to arrive Wednesday in Houston. While Sierra Leone is not one of the countries on the banned list, Sanu said he is concerned for his mother's safe passage, as usual.
"I'm always concerned when you have somebody in your family traveling a long distance like that," Sanu said.
While Sanu opted not to tackle Trump's decision, which halted the U.S. refugee program for 120 days and bans all Syrian refuges indefinitely, another NFL player who is a Muslim spoke out against the order.
Ryan Harris, currently a tackle with the Steelers and formerly with the Eagles, recently told the Denver Post that "what's sad is being a victim and being a terrorist is the same today."
"Hate crimes have been escalating since the election," Harris told the Post. "Even here in Denver, reported swastika graffiti has increased. These are things that we understood from the language of some of our elected officials use and have used. This is exactly from the playbook of hatred and divisiveness. But I believe and others I spend time with believe in the love of another human being and continue to support others who are marginalized."