Seahawks' Coleman overcomes deafness

Posted: January 30, 2014

NEWARK, N.J. - Media day in the Prudential Center was loud, and of course, silly, with "reporters" dressed in see-through lace dresses and as Waldo. (But sadly, not as Waldo in a see-through lace dress.)

Derrick Coleman did fine with the silly. The "loud" could have been a problem, had the Seattle Seahawks' fullback not been tucked away at the back of yesterday's hurly-burly.

"As long as you're looking at me, I can read your lips, and we're good to go," said Coleman, the first deaf offensive player in the NFL. He wears hearing aids in both ears.

"From zero-to-10, eight, nine, 10 is normal for everybody. Without my hearing aids I'm a two or three," Coleman said. "With my hearing aids, I'm a six, seven or eight, depending on what day it is."

Coleman, 23, started to lose his hearing at age 3, something that eventually was traced to a genetic problem. When he started playing football, every time he got hit, the hearing aids popped out - something dramatized in a commercial he did recently for Durcell batteries. Eventually, by the time he got to UCLA, Coleman was wearing two skull caps under his helmet - one to keep his hearing aids dry, and another to keep them in place.

His quest has been to get friends to treat him normally. A few summers ago during a party on a lake, he realized just how successful he'd been. As he reached to help someone with a ladder, a friend kicked Coleman into the water.

"I still had my hearing aids in," he recalled. "I came up maaad, but that made me glad, that they forgot. (Pause.) When I came up, they remembered."

The hearing aids are water resistant, he said, but not waterproof. Wear them into a lake, they start cutting in and out. But he always keeps two pairs: "You never know what can happen."

Coleman tries to make sure his hearing doesn't cause problems on the field.

"If ever there's a situation where I didn't hear what the play is, I'm not shy at all . . . I don't get awkward; I'll go up and grab the quarterback, 'What was this?' Or I'll repeat it back to him - even if I did hear, I'll repeat it back to him, just in case," Coleman said. "If one guy messes up, the whole play goes down the drain."

Seahawks coach Pete Carroll yesterday called Coleman "an extraordinary person."

"He has demonstrated to others that have that kind of issue, how far you can take it and what you can do, and how there are no boundaries," Carroll said. "He's done a marvelous job of that. Meanwhile, being a great kid and a great football player, too."

Doing the media dance

Somehow, DeSean Jackson was at media day, wearing Clark Kent glasses and squiring around 6-year-old Internet dance sensation Lil TerRio, who is sort of like Honey Boo-Boo, only different.

Jackson has done Lil TerRio's dance after touchdowns, and he was seen with the young fella in Philly last month, Lil TerRio appearing as part of a Jackson birthday party. They made the media rounds in New York yesterday, with Jackson repeatedly tweeting photos and videos of their appearances.

Lil TerRio also got to dance with the Eagles cheerleaders, who were at media day, presumably because everyone else in the world seemed to be there.

To all of this, there can be but one response: "Oooh killem."

The silent type

So, the deal with media day is, you're supposed to be available to talk for an hour, something the NFL has been pretty strict about over the years. But Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch's antipathy toward the media cost him a $50,000 NFL fine this past season, and yesterday, Lynch made only the barest nod toward the league's rules, appearing for about 6 minutes.

"Nope. I'm just about action," Lynch said. "You say 'Hut' and there's action. All the unnecessary talk, it don't do nothing for me. I appreciate that people want to hear from me, but I just go to work and do my thing. You feel me?"

The next question involved whether he understands that talking to the media connects him more closely with fans.

"I understand that. My fans love me regardless," he said. "They love the Seahawks. They aren't worried about what I've got to say. They just want to make sure I show up to perform."

On Twitter: @LesBowen


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