SEATTLE, Wash. (CBS Seattle) – Seattle Seahawk’s fullback Derrick Coleman is the only offensive player in NFL history who is legally deaf.
Coleman, who was diagnosed with a profound hearing loss, relies on lip-reading and has his own way of communicating with his quarterback Russell Wilson.
“He knows to look at me if he makes an audible at the line of scrimmage,” he told CBS News. “He knows just tell everybody and just turn back at me one more time and he’ll tell me the play.”
Coleman has always played the game this way and is capable of playing just as well as anybody else.
“You can’t use your problem as an excuse,” he added to CBS News. “Because you use an excuse, you’re not going to get to your dream.”
In the pros, Coleman is able to wear a skullcap to keep his hearing aids in place under the helmet, but he wasn’t always able to use a skullcap. As a kid he had to come up with other ways.
“I took a pair of my pantyhose and I cut the pantyhose and tied the top of it and I said, ‘Let’s see if this works and if this hold them in,’ and low and behold, it worked,” his mother May Hamlin told CBS News.
Coleman rushed for 1,700 yards and scored 19 touchdowns while playing at the University of Los Angeles, but was not drafted by the NFL.
He was invited to try out for the Seahawks.
“A bad thing happened, I didn’t get drafted. Well there’s an opportunity right after that to go prove to them – prove them wrong that they should have drafted me,” Coleman told CBS News.
Coleman added that he is “proving it now, but still has a long way to go.”