At 6:00pm EST today the Seattle Seahawks will host the San Fransisco 49ers. While the focus of the game may be between the young gun quarterbacks Russell Wilson and Colin Kaepernick, there is another player that you may want to look out for. (Above you’ll see a (spectacular) video of Coleman’s recent popularity as he stars in a commercial for Duracell that recently went viral.)
Fullback, No. 40, Derrick Coleman will be playing in his 13th NFL game as the first legally deaf offensive player in the NFL. Coleman isn’t the first deaf player in the NFL, but he is the first to be on the offensive side of the ball. Bonnie Sloan (St. Louis Cardinals, 1973) and Kenny Walker (Denver Broncos, 1991) were two of the first hearing impaired athletes to play professional football, but both played defense.
At age 23 he has spent the last 20 years of his life overcoming a profound hearing loss that may have prevented most people from even attempting to play football. In 2012 Coleman went unpicked in the NFL draft after graduating from UCLA. “They didn’t call my name, told me it was over,” he said. “But I’ve been deaf since I was 3, so I didn’t listen.”
There isn’t a single Seattle Seahawk teammate that isn’t grateful Coleman didn’t let the 2012 draft stop him from pursuing his dream. In fact, most of them are inspired by his work ethic and perseverance. “You can always make something work if you really put your mind to it,” Coleman said. “You can definitely achieve it and that’s why when people say I can’t do something, I know that I probably can or will at least try my best to get it done and if I don’t, at least I tried.”
When he plays he wears hearing aids in both ears and uses a skull cap and medical tape to help keep them in place. On the sidelines he keeps an extra set of (Duracell) batteries just in case. And it’s a good thing too. Last week during a playoff game against the New Orleans Saints Coleman received a beeping alert from his hearing aids warning him the batteries were getting low. “I had one of the equipment guys get my batteries,” he said. “Came back, changed them right quick, good to go.”
On December 2, 2013, during a Monday Night Footbal (MNF) game Coleman scored his first touchdown. And today we’ll be rooting for him to get another.