Deaf NFL player Derrick Coleman comes back as a Falcon

Deaf NFL player derrick coleman

Derrick Coleman, the NFL’s first legally deaf offensive player, is coming back to the field as a fullback for the Atlanta Falcons.

Coleman first gained recognition during his time with the Seattle Seahawks from 2012 to 2015, when he was part of their Superbowl-winning season. He returns to the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons, as a replacement for Pro Bowl fullback Patrick DiMarco, according to ESPN, and is currently participating in their minicamp.

Coleman has been wearing hearing aids since he was four-years-old. He says he uses hearing aids and lip-reading to communicate on the field.

Shortly after he signed the one-year contract with the team back in March, he informed his new teammates about his hearing loss, according to ESPN.

“Hey, my name is Derrick Coleman. I’m hard of hearing, but I wear hearing aids. I can’t always hear you. But any time you might (be) audible and I don’t hear you, all I’m going to do is come up and grab you on your arm and be like, ‘Hey, what did you say? Can you repeat it?’ You don’t even have to yell it. I’m just going to read your lips, and I’m good to go.”

“…all I’m going to do is come up and grab you on your arm and be like, ‘Hey, what did you say? Can you repeat it?”

Coleman strives to break down barriers people with hearing loss, and says his parents have played an important role in helping him be confidant on and off the field.

“You talk to anybody who has hearing difficulty, they will tell you, we all have problems. We’ve been bullied, we’ve been made fun of,” Coleman told in 2014. “My Dad taught me a lot growing up. Basically told me, ‘Don’t squander any opportunities.’ ‘You only have so many in this life,’ and ‘Don’t get ready, be ready.’ He basically said that to me day in, day out.”

Falcons coach Dan Quinn, who was also the defensive coordinator for the Seahawks when Coleman was on the team, told ESPN that he’s asked Coleman to practice playing two positions during the minicamp: fullback and halfback.

If Coleman does make the roster, he could be back on the field in the new season, which kicks off September 10 against the Chicago Bears.

Jill von Büren on LinkedinJill von Büren on Twitter
Jill von Büren
Managing Editor Hearing Like Me
Jill is the social media community manager at Sonova and managing editor of Hearing Like Me.
She has a background in journalism, and passion for storytelling and connecting with people. When she's not immersing herself in the hearing loss community, she enjoys traveling, doing yoga and learning Swiss German.

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