June 2, 2015, 8:36 AM ET
Seattle Seahawks Derrick Coleman may be sidelined because of injury this Super Bowl Sunday, but the first deaf offensive player in the NFL is still a champ on and off the field.
By LEANNE FRENCH
If someone says you can’t achieve your dreams, Seattle Seahawks Derrick Coleman’s advice is just don’t listen to them. That’s what he’s done his entire life. Deaf since he was three years old, the 24-year-old fullback was told he would never make it to the pros, but if you’ve ever watched Coleman play football or seen his viral Duracell commercial from last year, you’ll know being told “you can’t” never stopped him.
The sports world loves an underdog story and Coleman’s journey to the NFL is among the most inspiring in recent years. As a kid, he was called “Four Ears” because of his hearing aids and he was beat up just for being different. The challenges young Derrick faced made his supportive parents worry about how he would make his way in the world, but then in the 6th grade he found football and it changed his life.
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By Cara R. Anthony, Frederick News-Post, 2/3/2014
WALKERSVILLE — When the third deaf player in NFL history took to the field on Super Bowl Sunday, he had the support of 15 men in Frederick County.
“That’s him! That’s him,” Mark Alford proclaimed when he saw Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman on television.
Like Colman, Alford and his friends are hearing impaired. Each year, the men watch the Super Bowl together — a tradition they’ve upheld for more than 30 years.
They threw their first party in 1981.
“First we had 10, then we had 12, and now we have 15,” Robert Padden said through a sign-language facilitator.
Sending their wives to a local restaurant has also become a tradition. It gives the men time to catch up, eat, make bets and watch football. They gathered around Bourne’s television Sunday to cheer for their respective teams.
Robert Davila, of New Market, said he wanted the Seahawks to win. He married his wife in Seattle.
“I am still loyal to the city,” Davila said. “She is the only reason I know the city, so I have been loyal ever since.”
Davila said he was cheering for Coleman even though other men at the party had their money on Denver.
By Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, 8/15/2013
Derrick Coleman scores on a 6-yard reception last Thursday during the Seahawks’ opening
Coleman, you see, is essentially deaf, having been able to hear only sounds and tones since age three. That’s when his hearing mysteriously began to disappear.
“It just kind of went away,’’ Coleman said. “We don’t really know why.”
But hearing aids and an uncanny ability to read lips — he’s trained himself to look there first — have allowed Coleman to adapt to the point that many who know him forget he’s deaf, and many who meet him don’t realize it unless they are told.
“He finds a way and he’s very resourceful,’’ said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “It has not been an issue at all.”
Coleman, in fact, has been one of the team’s steadiest players throughout training camp, scoring a touchdown on a 6-yard pass in Seattle’s 31-10 win over the Chargers last Thursday and also leading the team with two tackles on special teams.
“He’s already shown us he’s one of the most dependable special teams guys,’’ Carroll said. “He’s shown us that he can play for us.”
That’s no guarantee of making the final 53-man roster for what is regarded as being one of the most talent-laden teams in the NFL, of course.
But if Coleman doesn’t make it, it won’t be because of his hearing issues.
“I don’t ever use it as an excuse,’’ he said.
Coleman even says he thinks it gives him an edge when stadiums get especially raucous and players have to rely on hand signals and other non-verbal methods of communication.
“When it gets loud I feel like I have the advantage,” he said. “I can tune that out.”
Distributed 2013 by Northern Virginia Resource Center for Deaf and Hard of Hearing Persons (NVRC), 3951 Pender Drive, Suite 130, Fairfax, VA 22030; www.nvrc.org; 703-352-9055 V, 703-352-9056 TTY, 703-352-9058 Fax. Items in this newsletter are provided for information purposes only; NVRC does not endorse products or services. You do not need permission to share this information, but please be sure to credit NVRC. This news service is free of charge, but donations are greatly appreciated.