A chat with Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman, the NFL’s first deaf offensive player


One of the most famous episodes of the legendary sitcom “Seinfeld” was called “The Lip Reader.” In it, George borrows Jerry’s deaf girlfriend at a party to spy from across the room and lip-read his former girlfriend’s interactions with a presumed prospective beau. As with any typical Costanza situation, the plan ended in failure. But for Seattle Seahawks fullback Derrick Coleman and partner Duracell, the 2013 NFL season has been anything but.

Duracell hopes to inspire people, especially children, to trust the power within to achieve their dreams. And Coleman is a living example. Check out this fantastic video from Duracell detailing his road to the NFL:

Coleman, who is legally deaf  and has mastered the art of lip reading, entered the preseason as an undrafted running back a year removed from UCLA and was just hoping to be included on the Seahawks’ 53-man roster. After contributing on special teams and offensively (including a 6-yard TD catch) in the preseason, the Seahawks kept Coleman and converted him to fullback.

Coleman is the first deaf athlete to play offense in the NFL, which inspired Duracell to feature and promote his story of success.

“Duracell saw that I had an inspiring story to tell and they want to inspire people, especially children, to achieve the dreams they have like I did,” Coleman said. “That’s how we linked up based on the similarities.”

The 6-foot, 233-pound former Bruin scored his first career regular season touchdown on Monday Night Football in a 34-7 thrashing of the New Orleans Saints.

If you look at the video, I’m kind of sitting on the ground because I don’t even know what happened. And I’m looking around like, ‘Did I get the score, or what’s up?’ It was definitely a fun experience,” said Coleman about catching a Russell Wilson pass that had ricocheted off of a teammate’s helmet into his hands before he plunged into the endzone.

“I’ve scored a lot of touchdowns, but when you score in the NFL, no matter how freaky or odd the score is, you’re just glad you get to do it. I kept the ball. It’s actually at my dad’s house in a case right now.”

After a tenuous start to the season with no guarantees, Coleman has become the Seahawks starting fullback, clearing the way for arguably the best running back in the NFL, Marshawn Lynch. Lynch’s epic touchdown run versus the Saints in the NFL playoffs occurred three years to the week of the 2014 playoff rematch.

“It’s been really fun,” said Coleman, in regards to blocking for “Beast Mode.” “To get the opportunity to block for him is just extra motivation. I get to help this dude be the best he can be, possibly a Hall of Famer. However I can help him and for as long as I can help him, I’ll do whatever it takes.”

“I’ve embraced every second of this because I get to keep playing football,” Coleman said, when I asked him about the unexpected success both he and the Seahawks enjoyed in 2013.

“I’m doing really well right now and I know other children can too. As a kid and in meeting people throughout my life, I’ve met people who used it (hearing impairment) as an excuse. I never did and I want kids to know they don’t have to. I’m impressed with myself and I know other people can be impressed with themselves too.”

Has Coleman ever used his lip-reading skills for the benefit of one of his friends, a la George Costanza, to hook up with a girl at a party?

“I use my own skills for my own advantage,” he said, laughing. “It’s a skill I developed, so I’ve got to use it.”

Watch and share Derrick Coleman’s courageous story at YouTube.com/Duracell.


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