ASL University ►

Deaf People: "Derrick Coleman"



Emma Patek



Derrick Coleman


            Derrick Coleman Jr. was born October 18, 1990 in Los Angeles, California. After attending high school at Fullerton Troy, he continued his education at UCLA before being drafted as a free agent to first the Minnesota Vikings and then to the Seattle Seahawks where he still plays today. However, what causes him to stand out is not his choice of teams, but rather the fact that in 2012 he became the first deaf offensive player in the NFL. Today, Derrick plays as a starting fullback for the Seattle Seahawks. On top of simply being the first deaf offensive player in the NFL he also became the first to win a super bowl which his team accomplished in 2014.

            Derrick was pronounced deaf at the age of three. Growing up as part of the Deaf community proved to be difficult at times. He attended hearing schools his whole life and used an audiologist from third grade until completing 12th grade. While attending hearing schools Derrick faced a lot of adversity and was constantly being bullied. Derrick was first told he was deaf in his left ear and the hearing in his right ear went shortly after and was gone by elementary school. The hearing aids are what intrigued the other kids the most. He could hear again, but that also meant he could hear all the kids picking on him, calling him four ears. The bullying even turned physical one day on the school playground. Eventually he channeled the hurtfulness he felt from the badgering into working out at home.

            When entering the seventh grade Derrick decided he wanted to try playing football. His mother, a nurse, was hesitant to let her son play such a contact sport in fear that his hearing aids would come out or that a hit could worsen his hearing (Friend, 2014). However, his father looked at it differently. His father thought that it would be a great outlet for Derrick and a way to make friends and be a "regular" kid (A&E Television, 2015). After having an MRI done they came to the conclusion that playing football would not further damage Derrick's hearing. So that was it, Derrick was playing football.

            In the beginning, just like his mother feared, every time Derrick made a tackle he was then on the ground searching for his hearing aids (Friend, 2014). She then designed a skull cap to help keep his earpieces in place (Friend, 2014). After going professional, Derrick received a helmet with special padding to help keep the hearing aids in place. Derrick achieved many awards and broke many records in both high school and college. As a senior in high school, Coleman was named MVP and first-team all-league and broke school season records for touchdowns, points scored, rushing yards, and many more (A&E Television, 2015). When playing for college he did not get to see frequent playing time until his junior year when he was ranked second on the team in yards.

            Kids overcome obstacles everyday. But not a lot do so the way Derrick Coleman did. If allowed to be, deafness can be one of those obstacles. However, it can also be a blessing. Derrick did not allow it to be an obstacle, it was a part of him. Derrick pushed through the torment and the bullying that he faced on a day to day basis. Instead of letting it push him down he used it to motivate him to better himself physically. Derrick proved himself and helped make his dream come true despite the circumstances. This just proves that no matter what, the only thing that comes in between your dream and achieving that dream is yourself. He did not let not being drafted in 2012 stop him, but just like the other occurrences he used it to better himself. Hearing people sometimes think that because someone is deaf it means they are incapable of what some may deem normal things. Yet while they may be more difficult Derrick helped proved they are not impossible.





"Derrick Coleman." Bio. A&E Television Networks, 2015. Web. 04 June 2015.


French, L. (2015, January 29). 'Listen Carefully' to Seattle Seahawks Derrick Coleman (INTERVIEW). Retrieved June 4, 2015,


          Friend, Tom. "Derrick Coleman Misses Nothing." ESPN. ESPN Internet Ventures, 31 Jan. 2014. Web. 14 June 2015. <>.



Also see: Derrick Coleman





*  Want to help support ASL University?  It's easy
DONATE  (Thanks!)

Another way to help is to buy something from Dr. Bill's "Bookstore."

Want even more ASL resources?  Visit the "ASL Training Center!"  (Subscription Extension of ASLU)  

*  Also check out Dr. Bill's channel:

You can learn American Sign Language (ASL) online at American Sign Language University  
ASL resources by    Dr. William Vicars