Ryan Harris Leaves Denver for Philly

By Parvez Fatteh, TMO, Founder of,

ryan_harrisVeteran football offensive tackle Ryan Harris signed a one year contract with the Philadelphia Eagles on August 2nd. He had spent the previous four seasons with the Denver Broncos. And, now he has his sights set on the starting right tackle position currently occupied by Winston Justice. However, the job should be fairly open, with Justice having finished last season on the bench in a playoff game.

Harris was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota, and was raised in the church of Unitarian Universalism before converting to Islam. He was football and wrestling star in high school. And, after being heavily recruited for football, he went to the University of Notre Dame, where he started on the offensive line for all four years.

Former Philadelphia Eagles linebacker, and current football analyst, Garry Cobb viewed Harris at Eagles practice and wrote, “I got a short look at Harris but it wasn’t enough for me to give him a thumbs up or thumbs down. He looks and sounds like a good, intelligent athlete with the size to get the job done. I didn’t focus on him during the workout, I know I didn’t see his man getting to the quarterback, which is really all that matters.”

Cobb wrote further on, “I talked to Harris after practice and he talked about all the new techniques he’s had to learn from new offensive line coach Howard Mudd. I could tell that Harris is a cool confident customer, which [is] the attitude you must have to survive at offensive tackle in this league with all of these phenomenally talented defensive ends in the league.”

Harris was drafted by the Denver Broncos as a 3rd round pick (70th overall) in the 2007 NFL draft. In the 2008 season, Harris only allowed 1.5 sacks on his quarterback, Jay Cutler. The next year, Harris only started and played in 8 games, due to injuries. He dislocated two toes in a game on November 1, 2009. The injury kept him out the rest of season and was placed on Injured Reserve on December 9. Now, he becomes a part of Philadelphia’s so-called Dream Team. And he will have a valuable role on the team, that of protecting prized quarterback Michael Vick.


Nigerians Parents Fear for Students Studying Abroad

New America Media, Commentary, Olugu Ukpai

My dear God, has it now become a crime to be a Nigerian? The headlines tell me so over and over again. Mutallab: Man Who Shamed Nigeria. Mutallab: The Nigerian Agent of Al Qaeda. The Boy Who Blew Nigeria’s Image.

Umar Faruq Abdulmutallab’s failed attempt to blow up a U.S. airliner has just landed Nigeria, my country of birth, on the list of 14 nations whose nationals are going to be singled out for special checks if they want to fly to the United States. Nigeria has become a uniquely insecure travel terrorism hub, they say.

But Abdulmutallab never studied in Nigeria. He did not have “terror connections” in Nigeria. Instead his initiation into terror clubs happened abroad in the countries where he was sent to study to become a better person.

Abdulmutallab went to a British high school in Togo. He studied in Dubai, Yemen and Egypt. Above all, he studied mechanical engineering at University College, London, one of the oldest in England. It makes me wonder how Nigerian parents who have sent their children to study abroad, and those children studying abroad, are looking at the story of “the boy who blew Nigeria’s image.”

I, too like Abdulmutallab, am a Nigerian student studying in the United Kingdom. I can understand the concerns of Nigerian parents like mine who sent their children abroad in hopes for a better education – a Western style education. Now there is a deep concern among the same parents, especially those at home who are skeptical of the kind of “cults” their children are being exposed to abroad in the name of acquiring “the white man’s” education. A study by the University of Notre Dame in 2009 found that parents tended to know only 10 percent of what their children were doing abroad.

Foreign education is no longer a safe haven. On the other hand fearful parents cannot bring their children back home either. After all, American media reports paint Nigeria as a hotbed of Al Qaeda terror. When I come back to the U.K. after Christmas break I do not know what will befall me. Will I be treated as a terror suspect because I am Nigerian? Will the U.K. government just wash its hands off me while it pockets my high tuition?

Nigerian parents and students worry whether the U.K. government is living up to its promises to protect the students in its charge. Has it allowed terrorist groups to penetrate its universities so that unsuspecting students can fall prey to their wiles? Already there is a systemic breakdown of security in U.K. institutions of higher learning. A King’s College, London report says more and more women are reporting rapes. Nigerian parents worry about their children abroad.

Instead of demonizing Nigeria, the international press and the world at large should be honoring and celebrating the alleged terror suspect’s 70-year-old father, who set aside blood bonds to report his son’s newfound religious extremism to the U.S. Embassy in Nigeria. I contend that he deserves a Global Citizen Award, and Nigeria should honor him with a National Merit Award. He is an exemplary Nigerian whose act of integrity should be rewarded and recognized. This might help fight terrorism by encouraging others who might have similar useful information.

Instead of ganging up on Nigeria, world powers would do well to review security policies to better protect the lives of international students. Our parents sell their pound of flesh to provide a brighter future for us. No parent would ever dream their “well-behaved and humble” child — as many have described Abdulmutallab — would turn into a terrorist and end up in Guantanamo Bay, all in the name of acquiring the “white man’s” education.

Olugu Ukpai is a Ph.D student at School of Law at the University of Reading, U.K. He can be reached at