Gibran Hamdan has worn the recognizable threads of the Washington Redskins, San Francisco 49ers, Miami Dolphins and Buffalo Bills. Now, the 30-year-old former NFL quarterback and current Edina resident wears Alial Fital.
Hamdan started the Alial Fital shirt brand in January, and his roster includes NFL players Larry Fitzgerald and Matt Hasselbeck—as well as a growing number of local men.
Hamdan was a journeyman quarterback who bounced around from the bottom of one NFL depth chart to the next. He completed one pass for seven yards during his rookie season. Seven years later, those stats would remain his career NFL totals.
As he went from the west coast to east and across the Atlantic Ocean to NFL Europe, he tried to remain creative between practices and games. The 6-foot-4, 220-pound man dabbled in acrylic painting and playing guitar.
“The guys would joke that I was a renaissance man,” Hamdan says.
He got his start with art while growing up in San Diego and suburban Washington D.C., but as football and baseball took up more time, art wasn’t always an active hobby.
“It was always something that I enjoyed doing. I always enjoyed design and colors,” says Hamdan, who earned a marketing degree and played baseball and football at Indiana University. “I knew I wanted to put things into the world that weren’t there before. I always relished that opportunity to make something from scratch and it being there.”
Hamdan, however, kept art over there. After marrying Jenny Grant, the granddaughter of Hall of Fame coach Bud Grant, he flew to Toronto to play the 2010 season in the Canadian Football League. Two days into training camp, his body was in fine shape and the starting quarterback position was his to lose, but his heart wasn’t in it.
For the first time since he strapped on the pads his freshman year of high school in Virginia, the passion was gone.
“It wasn’t the same for me anymore,” Hamdan says.
He came back to Edina, contemplating his next move. He considered a career as a TV commentator, but there were drawbacks, he said.
Before heading off to Toronto, he played around on Jenny’s sewing machine. That’s where his mind returned after football was over.
“There was a shirt I wanted that I can’t find in the stores,” Hamdan recalls. “I taught myself the art of pattern making and designing it from scratch to fit a certain body type. That was very important to me.”
He was looking for a form fit on the body with longer length. It needed to be made of comfortable cotton.
“Something that a guy would look in the closet and say, ‘That is a comfortable shirt. I want to wear that,’” Hamdan says, “but you would have a real collar, and if it was long-sleeved, a cuff. You could go out in a date in it. I wanted a hybrid shirt.”
Amanda Kautt of St. Paul bought two shirts as a gift for her husband, Jay. He soon bought two more.
“I immediately loved them—the feel, the fit, the cut, the design,” Kautt says. “[Hamdan] wrote me a hand-written note saying I was the first person in the country to have the golden belt polo shirt. He delivered it to me.”
Hamdan says that respect is a key part of his business.
Hamdan, the first NFL player of Pakistani decent, says his principles come from his Pakistani mother, Laila, and Palestinian father, Latif.
Spell those names backwards and you get Alial Fital, a tribute to his parents.
Check out Hamdan's clothing line Alial Fital online.