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Derrick Coleman Pursues NFL Roster Spot

By Chris Fischer, staff writer

Itís generally the same mantra every August in the sports world. Major League Baseball is in full swing closing in on pennant races, the Little League World Series pits youngsters against each other in Williamsport, and training camps start for NCAA and NFL football teams in anticipation of their upcoming seasons.

But for the first time since 1992, the NFL may have a unique addition for the 2013-2014 season - a deaf player. Derrick Coleman, a former star running back at UCLA, and now with the Seattle Seahawks, could join just two others in being the only deaf players in the NFL. The two with this exclusive claim are Bonnie Sloan, a defensive linemen for the St. Louis Cardinals in 1973, and Kenny Walker who played with the Denver Broncos in 1991-92. For Coleman, his deafness has never been a problem, evident by the honors he earned while at UCLA and being good enough to be with a professional football team.

Despite being just as talented as his counterparts, Coleman does do a few things differently to accommodate his hearing loss. For example, rather than listening for the call to snap the ball, he simply watches with his eyes. Another thing he does is double-check with teammates to make sure he knows the right play, as well as being near the quarterback during huddles.

But above all, his focus on duties and responsibilities as a player is extensive. So much that his study ethics have been compared to that Russell Wilson, the quarterback for the Seahawks. By studying situations as much as Wilson, Coleman can anticipate when certain audibles and changes to a play will be called. This allows for Coleman to compete at his best with extensive knowledge of the game.

As a deaf athlete, Coleman believes he has an advantage when crowds get loud because itís easier for him to tune the noise out and concentrate. He wears aids when playing, which are held in place by skull caps, and always makes sure to change the batteries before a game. In addition, his ability to read lips certainly helps in loud situations as well.

For any deaf youngsters with NFL dreams, look no further! Derrick Coleman is proof that NFL aspirations are within reach for deaf football players; deafness will not stop him from playing at the best level of football.

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