Friday, August 1, 2008

Where You At?: Ali Haji-Sheikh Edition

It's been a little while since I threw one of these together. Without further ado, I present the Where You At? for former Michigan kicker Ali Haji-Sheikh.

Ali Haji-Sheikh certainly has one of the more memorable names in Michigan football history. Born in Ann Arbor, Haji-Sheikh walked on to Michigan after an outstanding high school kicking career in Arlington, Texas (his area has produced eight NFL kickers, which is somewhat remarkable). After handling kickoff duties as a freshman, Haji-Sheikh became Michigan's full time kicker in 1980.

This is where Michigan's online statistical resources fail me, as their kicking statistics only go back to 1984, which happens to be two seasons after the Sheikh graduated. However, I can tell you he made 31 field goals during his career at Michigan, which I believe places him fourth on the school's all-time list. By all accounts, he was a tremendous kicker while at Michigan, and I will have to go by the word of others on that, since I wasn't yet born in 1982 and internet data on his collegiate career is sorely lacking (or at least very well hidden).

Ali Haji-Sheikh, very well hidden (1980 team photo from MGoBlue)

Haji-Sheikh was drafted in the 9th round (which no longer exists) of the 1983 NFL Draft by the New York Giants, and proceeded to set the kicking world on fire. In his rookie season, he set the NFL record for made field goals in a season (35, which still stands as the eighth-best mark of all time), made the Pro Bowl, and was selected first-team All-Pro. He also still holds the Giants records after making a 56-yard kick against the Lions. Life was good.

Haji-Sheikh, admiring how damn good he is (in 1983)

Unfortunately, kicking is somewhat of a cruel art. The all-time makes list is littered with young kickers who had one or two great seasons, only to disappear from the NFL before you can say "Chris Boniol". Haji-Sheikh struggled with a hamstring injury in 1984, went 17-for-33 on his field goals, missed three extra points, and subsequently earned the moniker "Haji-Shank" from the New York media. He was cut by the Giants after going 2-for-5 in the first two games of the season. Cartoon anvils have plummeted with less expediency than Haji-Sheikh's career with the Giants.

The Sheikh, circa 1985

Haji-Sheikh spent two more seasons in the NFL, one with Atlanta and one with Washington. He went 22-for-31 over that span and earned a Super Bowl Ring with the Redskins in 1987, despite missing 2 out of 3 kicks in the NFC Championship Game. He tried to hang on to his career by trying out for Washington again in 1987, but was cut in favor of rookie Chip Lohmiller and never played another NFL game.

Where does an unwanted kicker turn to after his football career is over? Selling cars, apparently. The Sheikh started selling cars at a dealership in New Jersey, and a 1991 New York Times article gave this gem of a quote:
Out of the National Football League since 1988, Haji-Sheikh is busy selling cars at Bergen Passaic Motors in Fair Lawn, N.J. Very busy. He was one of the top 25 sales people in the country for Volkswagen last year, when he sold more than 150 vehicles. "I was in the top five for a while, but I had a slump," said the 30-year-old Haji-Sheik.
Man, that had to feel like deja-vu. Luckily, Haji-Sheikh busted out of his slump, and is now the general manager of an Audi dealership in Birmingham, Michigan. He has settled down, has five kids, and spends a lot of his time coaching soccer and flag football.

Haji-Sheikh, showing off that golden leg while selling you an Audi (AP Photo)

Arlington-ex getting kids off on the right foot as youth coach (Dallas Morning News)
Shifting Gears; Car Salesman Still Looks to NFL (New York Times)
Ali Haji-Sheikh Statistics (Pro-Football-Reference.com)
Single-Season Total Field Goals Made Leaders (Pro-Football-Reference.com)

9 comments:

jessehajisheikh said...

this is a good article my man
i say this cause ali haji-sheikh is my dad and all that info you gave was very accurate
good work

Ace said...

I appreciate the support. It's great to see that your dad is doing quite well after his career at Michigan.

deb said...

Hi nice to see you made it. I remember when you applied at U o M grounds. I worked there. Just came across this site. Glad to see your still in Michigan. I remember taking your app. in central order. Never thought I would see this on line. Take care, Debbie

Anonymous said...

What about this info you didn't include. He kicked in the NFL from 1983-85 with the New York Giants, 1986 with the Atlanta Falcons, and 1987 with the Washington Redskins and kicked 6 extra points for Washington when they won the the Super Bowl.

Bill Sheridan said...

Do your research Blogger. Ali Haji-Sheikh kicked the Giants-record 56-yard FG against the GREEN BAY PACKERS on Monday Night Football. I was there. It was with 3-4 seconds left before halftime. The crowd went bonkers. Come on man, the internet is supposed to be accurate. Do your part. get it right.

Nurul Khamidah said...

Berita Haji Terbaru

Josh Wilk said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Josh Wilk said...

I saw it happen, too. I was in the 3rd or 4th grade-- my first trip to Giants Stadium. My dad wasn't a big sports fan (hunting and fishing his thing), but he knew how much I loved the Giants, scooped up some tickets last second at work (again, a Monday night game), and we caught this little sliver of Giants history. If memory serves me, the kick bounced in off of the crossbar. And Woolfolk had a couple exciting runs...Dad stopped at some Chinese place somewhere between Newton and the Meadowlands, got us a pair of Egg Rolls (another first for me)....a great Giants memory

Cherise Crawford said...

HAD TO LOOK UP ALI HAJI-SHEIKH AS A REDSKINS FAN FROM WASHINGTON DC NOW LIVING IN NJ, HAJI -SHEIKH WAS THE MAN! I APPRECIATE HIM MUCH, HE DID HIS THING IN THE SUPERBOWL (REDSKINS VS DENVER). GREAT KICKER AND HE HAS A SUPERBOWL RING TO SHOW FOR IT! HUGS AND SMILES!