Derrick Coleman: Overcoming The Odds
Education and Advocacy Derrick Coleman discusses his incredible journey to becoming the first ever deaf offensive player to play in the NFL.
Mediaplanet caught up with Super Bowl Champion Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks, to discuss how hard work and determination paved his path to success in the NFL.
Mediaplanet What helped to keep you motivated?
Derrick Coleman I would say my parents. My mother never let me use any excuses and she treated me as if I could hear. She let me do everything that any other kid could do. Her and my father always preached no excuses.
MP On the path to realizing your dream to play in the NFL, who would you say had the most influence on your success?
DC I would most definitely say my parents. Like I said they always made sure that I could do whatever I wanted and pushed for me to compete and never let me give up or use any excuses in anything I did. Whether it was in school or in sports, they always made sure I knew that I had to work harder than anyone to reach my dreams and aspirations.
"I wear hearing aids throughout the day, I only take them off when I shower so I can hear pretty well with my aids in."
MP How has your hearing affected the way you communicate with others on and off the field?
DC It really hasn’t affected my communication too much. I wear hearing aids throughout the day, I only take them off when I shower so I can hear pretty well with my aids in. But for example if it’s in game and I can’t hear the call coming from the quarterback, I always tell him to look back at me so I can read his lips. I’m a very good lip reader and that’s how I’m able to understand what you’re saying if I can’t actually hear you.
MP How have you made use of innovative hearing technologies while attending classes, practicing or playing football, or going about your everyday activities? How have those technologies positively impacted your life?
DC Like I stated earlier, I wear hearing aids daily, all day besides when I shower and when I sleep. The technology now is amazing and I’m able to hear everything pretty much. They pick up on every sound and I can hear as normally as possible. I may have to ask you to repeat something every now and again, but I would say my hearing aids are near perfect. They impacted my life because they have allowed me to live as normal as possible with my hearing disability. I just pop them in and I can hear. It’s pretty impressive.
MP You are viewed as a hero among the deaf and hard of hearing community. If you could convey one word of wisdom to others in these communities, what would it be?
DC No excuses. Everything you do, do it to the best of your abilities. People are going to not want to have faith in us because of us being hard of hearing or deaf. Let’s prove them wrong. Yes I may be playing in the NFL and proven many people wrong but one thing for sure is this is just the beginning. Nobody’s perfect, so don’t be ashamed of anything.
MP How has your NFL experience opened new doors and new possibilities for you and young athletes aspiring to careers in professional football?
DC It allows me to share my story with not only those who are like me and have the same hearing disability that I have, but to everyone chasing a dream. Don’t listen to people who tell you that you can’t do something. Do it and prove them wrong, that’s what I did.