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Derrick Coleman of Seahawks: Deafness can give an edge

Seahawks’ Derrick Coleman makes his mark despite hearing disability

By Bob Condotta, The Seattle Times, 8/15/2013

Derrick Coleman
John Lok / The Seattle Times

Derrick Coleman scores on a 6-yard reception last Thursday during the Seahawks’ opening

RENTON — If you meet Seahawks running back Derrick Coleman and he doesn’t initially look you in the eye, take no offense.

Coleman, you see, is essentially deaf, having been able to hear only sounds and tones since age three. That’s when his hearing mysteriously began to disappear.

“It just kind of went away,’’ Coleman said. “We don’t really know why.”

But hearing aids and an uncanny ability to read lips — he’s trained himself to look there first — have allowed Coleman to adapt to the point that many who know him forget he’s deaf, and many who meet him don’t realize it unless they are told.

“He finds a way and he’s very resourceful,’’ said Seahawks coach Pete Carroll. “It has not been an issue at all.”

Coleman, in fact, has been one of the team’s steadiest players throughout training camp, scoring a touchdown on a 6-yard pass in Seattle’s 31-10 win over the Chargers last Thursday and also leading the team with two tackles on special teams.

“He’s already shown us he’s one of the most dependable special teams guys,’’ Carroll said. “He’s shown us that he can play for us.”

That’s no guarantee of making the final 53-man roster for what is regarded as being one of the most talent-laden teams in the NFL, of course.

But if Coleman doesn’t make it, it won’t be because of his hearing issues.

“I don’t ever use it as an excuse,’’ he said.

Coleman even says he thinks it gives him an edge when stadiums get especially raucous and players have to rely on hand signals and other non-verbal methods of communication.

“When it gets loud I feel like I have the advantage,” he said. “I can tune that out.”

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