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

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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.

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Bullz-Eye interviews NBA legend Rick Barry on his career, Ektio shoes and what’s wrong with the NBA

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We recently had the chance to talk with NBA legend Rick Barry, and it was fantastic! After the interview, I went out and shot 1,000 free throws and made 999 of ‘em!

Inducted into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame in 1987, Barry won an ABA title in 1969, an NBA title in 1975, was named the NBA Rookie of the Year in 1966, and was named the All-Star Game MVP in 1967. He’s the only player to ever lead the NCAA, ABA and NBA in scoring for an individual season. Check out the ridiculous numbers he put up.

Your performance in the 1966-67 All-Star Game is one of the greatest single game performances ever. You dropped 38 points and led your West squad to a victory over an Eastern Conference team that featured Wilt Chamberlain, Oscar Robertson, Bill Russell and was coached by Red Auerbach. And you did it when you were just 22 years old. What are your memories of that game?

It was a remarkable game. You look back and see how many players who played in that game were named to the 50 Greatest NBA Players team. In addition to who you mentioned, they had Jerry Lucas and Hal Greer as well. We had Nate Thurmond, Elgin Baylor and Jerry West; it was a remarkable array of talent. I got the MVP, but in all honesty, I’ve always thought the NBA All-Star Game should have a Most Outstanding Player (MOP) and a Most Valuable Player (MVP). In this case, I would’ve won MOP for a great offensive output, but the MVP was Nate Thurmond and how he helped negate that incredible front line of the Eastern All-Stars.

The other thing that is amazing is it may be the only NBA All-Star Game ever where a coach got thrown out! Red Auerbach actually got thrown out of the game! That would never happen now because competition has changed. When I go to the All-Star Game now, fans go to be entertained; it’s entertainment. There’s not super competition. As a purest, and someone who loves the game, I’m always hoping it’s going to be close in the fourth quarter because then they play really serious and pride will come out and they want to win. Otherwise, the stuff that they’re doing now isn’t true competition. For us, the winning team got a $2,000 dollar bonus; two grand to me was almost one-seventh of my salary! That’s a lot of money in those days. Now, it’s irrelevant. So our games were incredibly competitive.

What happened to the true sharpshooters; guys like you and Chris Mullin?

I think Chris was more of a shooter than I was. I was more of a scorer; I found ways to score. I got better as a shooter as my game progressed. There’s still some amazing shooters out there. Like Ray Allen. Guys like that are shooting 40% from beyond the arc and that’s an amazing shot; it truly is. The NBA three-point shot is from a long way out. What you’re not seeing today is guys playing and utilizing the mid-range game like we used to. Now, it’s either inside post-up dunk or three point shot. I think they’re missing the boat in that regard. It’s fun to watch a team do that, which is why I like to watch San Antonio. Gregg Popovich does such a great job coaching his team to play the way I always thought the game should be played. Tough defense, move the ball around, set screens, force the defense to make decisions.

How did all of your sons who played professional basketball become such great shooters? And did you ever think that one of your kids would have a Slam Dunk Champion trophy in their possession?

To be honest, I was hoping one of my boys would be good enough to play division I college basketball, or to even play basketball if they wanted to, to get a scholarship. I have five now, four in the NBA. To have three of them has never been done before and who knows what’s going to happen with my youngest son. At this stage, he’s probably more skilled than the other guys. As far as becoming great shooters, having the confidence to make the shot when you have to is the key. And repetition, repetition, repetition. That’s a matter of putting the time and effort into it. But you also have technique, a pattern that you do. Whatever your routine is, you do it every single time, like with free throws.

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A chat with writer/director Scott Cooper (“Out of the Furnace”)

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If there’s a writer/director that strives to live by the adage of “keeping it real,” it’s Scott Cooper. The former actor burst on to the directorial scene with 2009’s country music drama “Crazy Heart” to rave reviews and two Oscars for Best Actor Jeff Bridges and Best Original Song by Ryan Bingham and T-Bone Burnett. Cooper may have left the New Mexico locale of his debut effort behind, but the gritty honesty of his storytelling remains. The Virginia native uses the Rust Belt and the Appalachians to tell a story of revenge, retribution and struggle in “Out of the Furnace.” He recently sat down to discuss working with a new slate of A-list actors, the complexities of being a writer/director and his collaboration with Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder.

What was it like working with A-list talents such as Christian Bale, Casey Affleck and Willem Dafoe in only your second film?

SCOTT COOPER: When you work with actors who fully realize their characters as these did and care as much as they do about giving three-dimensional performances, it’s truly about as good as it gets as a film director. You become very spoiled, because they’re so good and so passionate about what they’re doing and, ultimately, the finished product. It’s very, very gratifying.

How important was it to film on location in a place like the mountains of Pennsylvania?

SCOTT COOPER: It was critical on location. I wrote it for Braddock, Pennsylvania and I wasn’t going to make it a film if I didn’t shoot in that small town. I also wanted to conversely show the mountains of New Jersey, which are the shadow of the Empire State Building. I wanted to show two worlds that are very underrepresented in American cinema – the type of blue collar milieu and very honest, hardworking people that are too often overlooked in films today. It was critical that I shoot where I wrote the film for. Much like I did for “Crazy Heart.” I wrote it for Santa Fe, L.A. and Texas and was able to shoot in all three places. It was very important that I shot in Braddock.

As a writer, do you have a personal attachment to the material that makes it difficult when you go into editing?

SCOTT COOPER: As William Faulkner would say, “You’re killing your darling.” He would kill certain paragraphs or chapters. His stories still held up and he knew it was the right thing to do. You’re always doing that as a filmmaker, as a writer, and as you rewrite and in the cutting room. But it’s really important that you make those decisions with a great deal of thought, because I never do anything wantonly and I become obsessive. But I always simply want to tell the truth. That’s what I’ve done with this film, and shined a light on what America has gone through in these last five very turbulent years, and portray honestly and sometimes very brutally and truthfully.

Leonardo DiCaprio was one of the producers. Was he very hands-on in regards to the making of the film?

SCOTT COOPER: Yes, Leo has been a big supporter of the picture. His take on the material has always been very valuable. He’s made many, many films, and while he’s not a director, he’s spent a lot of time in cutting rooms. When you’ve spent time in the cutting room with Martin Scorsese, you get the best film education that anyone could hope for, so Leo has been a very valuable asset.

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A chat with Paul Walker (“Hours”)

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In “Hours” (available in select theaters and on VOD December 13th), Paul Walker portrays Nolan Hayes, a man who has to deal with the consequences of Hurricane Katrina while facing a personal tragedy surrounding the birth of his daughter. The film contains elements of action, thriller and caused the actor to encounter a personal attachment to the movie. Prior to his tragic death, Walker sat down to discuss the challenges and satisfaction in taking on such a unique role, as well as his relationships with his “Fast and the Furious” castmates.

With the clock ticking away, what did you tap into as an actor to relay that urgency?

PAUL WALKER: We were probably about two-thirds of the way into the movie and it hit me what the significance of this project was to me. It was weird the way it happened. Just by page value, I was like, “Wow, this is pretty powerful.” I was crying and upset and yelling at him. I was feeling all these emotions. I realized it wasn’t about Nolan and a baby, and this beautiful girl. This is life and this machine is just this crazy thing I’ve been running for I don’t know how long. I’m just spinning it for what reason? I’m just juggling all these balls. You’re trying to make sense of it and it hit me when I was a kid. I started doing this in my early twenties. I was like, “I’m a science guy. I’m a geek. I’m into science and botany and marine sciences. I’m supposed to be outdoors and hiking. Maybe I’m supposed to be a professional guide.” I fought this for years and years and years, but at the same time, I wasn’t stupid. I was like, “I just had a child out of wedlock. It’s a good thing I’m making another movie. I’m going into “Varsity Blues,” just before I thought about leaving. I could put a roof over my baby’s head and then I could figure out my stuff. I’m in this movie and it speaks to me in a very pure and truthful level. What I didn’t realize is that this is my life. This is all of our friggin’ lives. We’re running around and cranking this stupid machine and we get flat-backed and something crazy happens to us and you look inside the box and go, “Holy shit.” So, I was about two-thirds into the movie and thought, “Oh my god, this is so therapeutic.”

How much of a physical toll was doing this movie?

PAUL WALKER: It was a walk in the park. (Laughs) It had a good balance, the physicality and the emotional component. I remember it being around midday and going, “Holy hell, I’ve got six hours left to go,” but at the end of the day…let me go back. My father was a contractor. He made me learn a different trade every summer going through high school. All of his buddies were tradesmen. My dad was like, “They can never take skill sets away from you. That’s something you’ll always have, so you’ll always be worth something, because you’ll always be able to provide a certain service.” He’s smart like that. My grandfather’s like that, too. At the end of the day, you can go, “Wow, look what I did.” Movies don’t have that. A film goes off in a canister or on a digital chip. There’s nothing to show for it. I said some things and I was trying to be cool, but that’s about it. (Laughs) That’s all you have. On this one, at the end of the day, I was like, “I experienced some stuff today. I felt some things.” I connected with Genesis. I loved that girl, working off her. I fell in love with her. It was reinvigorating. At the end of the day, I was like, “There might not be anything to show for it, but there’s something to feel for it.” So, when it came to work and getting up the next day, I was like, “Hell yeah!” I was ready to go.

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BMX Beast: A chat with Drew Bezanson

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Bicycles are the center of focus for countless professional athletes, from clean-shaven Tour de France cyclists, to explosively aesthetic BMX riders.

Almost every kid in America had a chance to shred around on a BMX bike when growing up. Some picked up the desire and ability to perform tricks, while the majority simply connected with the machine as a means of transportation. Either way, few, if any, will debate the fact that those who make it to the professional circuit are individuals with an incredibly extensive set of skills and enviable lack of fear.

Canadian Drew Bezanson caught the bug early in middle school after visiting a local skate park, and his progression since then has been nothing short of amazing. 2010 Transworld BMX NORA Cup for Ramp Rider of the year, Toronto BMX Jam, the JoMoPro, plus a couple of Simple Session wins and notable X Games and Dew Tour performances.

I had the pleasure of seeing Drew compete at this year’s Dew Tour in San Francisco, where he not only tore it up for a sixth place finish in dirt, but fell just outside the podium with a fourth place in streetstyle. The dude is a beast on a bike, plain and simple.

You can watch countless videos of BMX riders pulling out all the stops to land technically ferocious tricks, but it really is a spectacular thing to witness in person. The cliché praises spoken from long-haired, ex-pro announcers can be a bit corny at times, but the physicality and skill shown in competitive BMX truly is some insane shit – it’s undeniable.

Taking this into account, it was great to speak with Drew on what it’s like to actually be one of the select few that can say they are a pro BMX rider, and all the shenanigans that go along with it.

Did your traumatic head injury in 2011 effect the way you have competed since then, and are there certain things you avoid entirely when riding?

At first, it was definitely scary, but when you have that much time off the bike and can assess everything… I could get hurt doing anything. BMX is what I love to do. But I am a little safer now by always wearing a helmet and mouth guard.

Such a small group of people actually break through and become a professional athlete. Does this ever lose its luster or are you super motivated most the time?

It’s definitely an emotional roller coaster, and it is the way I pay my bills, but what I liked about BMX when I started was that I could do it whenever, wherever and however. If I didn’t want to ride my bike, I didn’t have to, but now there are some times where you’re sore and beat up and would love to take a day off, but you have to ride. So it’s up and down. You do get burned out a little bit, but I still love it.

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