“Especially back home, where I’m from, Dearborn, Michigan, there is a lot of pride so it’s a very humbling experience,” Saleh said. “When you look at an NFL organization and you look at the locker room, it’s like the ultimate melting pot of different people and different races and different stories that get together with one goal. To be a part of that is special.”
Saleh spent the past four seasons as the San Francisco 49ers defensive coordinator, helping lead the team to Superbowl LIV in 2020.
“Robert Saleh is an amazing coach who happens to be Arab and Muslim, and we couldn’t ask for a better representative for who we are as Arabs and as Muslims,” ADC legal and policy director Abed Ayoub told CNN.
“Sports transcends and it can bring people together and offer a very large, very wide platform. When an Arab Muslim American succeeds in sports, that positively affects the community as a whole.”
‘I’m supposed to be here’
During the news conference on Thursday, Saleh recalled the moment he decided to pursue his love of football, following the 9/11 terror attacks in New York.
His brother, David Saleh, was training as a financial adviser that morning in the World Trade Center’s South Tower when the planes struck the building. He survived, but thousands didn’t.
“I’m supposed to be here, and I believe that. God does things for a reason and I believe this is one of them.”