Derrick Coleman of the Seattle Seahawks learned long ago that he could either make history or excuses. This talented, but deaf, player chose history and is headed to the 2014 Super Bowl. The world is overflowing with excuses. There will always be a reason to make an excuse, but there comes a time in life when people have to decide whether they want to make history or excuses because there is no way to do both.
Coleman went to UCLA and was a shining star but never got drafted. He had to fight just to receive a NFL tryout. He never gave up or allowed any obstacles to stop him. The thing that separates those like Derrick Coleman who make history, is the decision to never allow challenges to outshine or upstage their determination. People who overcome obstacles to make history rarely succumb to the power of an excuse.
Coleman has been deaf since he was 3-years-old and has relied on lip-reading as a primary means of communication with the “outside” world. Due to his loss of hearing he had to work hard but he mastered the art of lip-reading at a young age. Now he is the first deaf offensive player in the NFL. Coleman is on his way, flying high to the Super Bowl. His journey has been an inspiration for many who have thought, because of a hurdle, they couldn’t achieve their dream.
No one believed Coleman would ever be in the NFL, except Coleman. He was always told that deaf people could not participate in professional team sports. He not only defied the odds but he surpassed what many players who can hear have done. He’s headed to the Super Bowl, not as a spectator but as a Seattle Seahawk to fight for the championship.
It’s no coincidence that Coleman was picked up by the Seattle Seahawks in December 2012. A Seahawk is one of many nicknames for the awesome Osprey bird. Ospreys are one of the most difficult raptors to hold in captivity. In the 1970s, in most states, ospreys were on the endangered species lists. In spite of those statistics, since that time they have successfully increased in numbers due to conservation efforts. They are, for the most part, still considered threatened. The history of the osprey or seahawk has a definite correlation to Coleman and his efforts to survive the statistics that were presented to him at an early age.
Coleman describes the ability to hear on a scale of 1 to 10. It’s no secret, especially since his commercial went viral, that Coleman wears hearing aids. While many who have normal hearing fall on the scale at seven or higher, Coleman says with his aids he is a solid seven but without hearing aids he falls to a one or below.
Coleman’s ability to read lips so well allows him to understand the play calls. Whenever Coleman is in the game his quarter back, Russell Wilson, removes his mouthpiece and calls the play so that Coleman can understand him.
Not only are Coleman’s teammates very supportive but he is privileged to be mentored by Coach Pete Carroll. Carroll knows how to allow his players to blossom. All he asks is that the player produces and Coleman has no problem with his end of the deal.
Coleman knew what he was signing up for and realized he would need to work harder than anyone else. First, he has to read lips in order to receive the play, within seconds absorb the information and then execute. Wilson said everyone is impressed by him, not just as a player but a person. Coach Carroll said he doesn’t know if he could overcome what Coleman has.
Each of Coleman’s teammates is amazed by him. They cannot imagine playing such an aggressive game and not have the ability to hear. Coleman has shown the world that it is very possible to transform something as difficult as a loss of hearing into a platform for history.
Carroll has been known to tell his players they are underestimated and limitless. Apparently they have taken his words to heart because the Seattle Seahawks are headed to Super Bowl XLVIII, and Coleman is going with them.
By: Cherese Jackson (Virginia)