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No Excuses.

Inspiration from the 50-yard line

Seattle Seahawk fullback, Derrick Coleman, is the first legally deaf offensive player in NFL history. To be effective on the field he has to read lips, advocate for his needs continually, and use powerful hearing aids — which he keeps in place and protected with a double layer of skullcaps. Where did Coleman learn to believe in himself enough, that he would one day make it to the The Big Game with his team? Two words: “Mom” and “Dad.”

Video Transcript

Hi, my name is Derrick Coleman. I’m a fullback, slash running back for the Seattle Seahawks. And I’m also hearing-impaired.

Ever since I was 4 years old, I’ve been wearing hearing aids. If you wasn’t in my immediate family, I didn’t really talk to you.

My parents used to take me everywhere with them and kind of force me into those situations. Basically made me who I am today, made me a very talkative person. [Laughs]

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.

And my parents come in, my mom specifically. She said, “Don’t really associate yourself with people who don’t want to help you.”

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.

As much as I loved sports, there was times that I didn’t really want to do it,
but they knew I liked sports so much, so they really pushed me. They didn’t let me stop.

Some people can’t play sports because they just don’t have it, but I was able to. That was an opportunity for me.

Somebody say I can’t do something that’s definitely achievable, I probably just gotta work on it, I’m going to try. And if I really can’t do it, then at least I know I tried.

One of my jobs is to block for Marshawn Lynch and Russell Wilson. We really focus on the whole team, the whole offense. Knowing when the quarterback is gonna audible. You know, he either tells you in the huddle, or we know,

“OK, we’re going to run this play, but if the defense lines up like that, we’re going to switch. If he just changes to something completely different, that’s not really part of the plan, they know, regardless of where we are, either at home where it’s quiet, or if it’s away where it’s loud, all he gotta do is turn around and just look at me. I’m not a shy person. And, I’ll go up there and grab him like, “What?” and then go back.

Sometimes it’s a benefit for me because I can read lips. I’ll be able to understand what the quarterback is saying before everyone else do.

That’s what I like about football. It’s a team thing. All 11 guys have to do the right thing in order for the play to work.

This is a rare opportunity. You know, there’s only 53 guys on 32 teams that are able to play.

Making my first touchdown in the NFL was one of the best experiences I’ve had so far. That was the first game back from an injury, and it was on Monday night.
That’s one of the things that my Dad always talked about is, that’s an opportunity.
I saw he threw the ball. And when I looked, Kellen Davis, all I saw was the ball hit him and it came up.

I saw a ball. In the air. I mean, so I was just like, “I’m going to get the ball.” So I went and grabbed it, and I just… it was all kind of a blur to me because I don’t know exactly what happened, because it happened so fast.

So I just caught the ball and went in. And then, if you really look closely, I’m just sitting there. Because it took me a second to realize what just happened. And then after that, they said, “Touchdown” and I’m like “OK! I can live with that.”

There’s a group of people in this world, when you tell them they can’t do something, they’re going to go out there and do it.

You told Russell he can’t be an NFL quarterback because he was too short, he went out and did it.

You told me that I can’t really play football because of my hearing loss, I went out there and did it.

That’s the end of the story, right there.

Editorial Staff
I work at Phonak and write for HearingLikeMe.com.

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14 Comments on "No Excuses."

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Hear15
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Hear15
Go Seahawks! Keep up the good work Derrick Coleman!
Daintylady
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Daintylady
I am profound deaf n my attitude is like your parents…you gotta stay in the main stream or you will become to love your quiet world so much that you will hate to mingle with people. And when you do that…you will only limit yourself. I just found out recently that you are deaf…i am very proud of you and how far you have come. Good for you!
Daintylady
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Daintylady
I am profound deaf n my attitude is like your parents…you gotta stay in the main stream or you will become to love your quiet world so much that you will hate to mingle with people. And when you do that…you will only limit yourself. I just found out recently that you are deaf…i am very proud of you and how far you have come. Good for you!
Louis Powell
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Louis Powell
Derrick, I am a fan of your not because of your celebrity or what you have done, because of who you are; not because you are hearing impaired, because you did not listen to those who said you couldn’t. Peace, brother!
cashpak8
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cashpak8
I love your attitude Derrick! You really are a fantastic role model for young hearing impaired individuals. Keep living and breathing that passion–good luck!
Emmie'sMom
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Emmie'sMom
You are such an inspiration! My 4 yr. old daughter has recently been diagnosed with hearing loss. She has had her new ears for only one week! We watch your videos daily, sometimes multiple times. She now wants to put panty hose on her head just like you! Thank you thank you thank you for being an amazing role model for so many people!

So proud !

Jeff2006
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Jeff2006
So proud of you! You are an inspiration!!
Hook3161
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Hook3161
Derek you are such an inspiration! I have a 7.5 year old son who is hearing impaired. He loves playing football. We try and teach him too that regardless of his hearing loss he can do anything he sets his mind too.
When I showed him your videos he said he wants to be just like you!
We will be cheering you on today here in Jersey!
Michelly
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Michelly
I don’t know you personally, but I’m so proud of you and all you have accomplished. Also, you are the inspiration I needed today. I thank you and God for that! I’m new to the hearing loss world and it’s a difficult road some days. I have a 5 yr. old son with Aspergers. I sometimes wonder if I can be the mom he deserves and help him with communication skills when I can’t even hear him when he chooses to speak. It doesn’t take long for me to get over things though. I couldn’t hear the doorbell earlier and… Read more »
TennisWay
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TennisWay
Hearing “impaired” I think not. Mr. Coleman is a person with a loss of good hearing. Thank you for the inspirational message.
pjcusick
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pjcusick
Thanks Derrick for showing everyone that hearing loss does not have to hold you back from your dreams! Go Seahawks!
HopeLavonia
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HopeLavonia
What an amazing story to share with children who are faced with hearing challenges. I remember when telling one of my friends about my sons hearing loss, she asked with concern ” what sport will he be able to play” I told her any sport he wanted!!! What a great story to have as an example. I hope to give courage to my son that he can do anything just as his parents gave to him
Louis Powell
Guest
Louis Powell
Derrick, I am a fan of your not because of your celebrity or what you have done, because of who you are; not because you are hearing impaired, because you did not listen to those who said you couldn’t. Peace, brother!
tiffjp71
Guest
tiffjp71
An inspiration to so many Deaf and HOH!!!!!
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