Sea­hawks’ Cole­man an in­spi­ra­tion

The Times Herald (Norristown, PA) - - SPORTS - By BOB GROTZ

JERSEY CITY, N.J. — Der­rick Cole­man doesn't do sign lan­guage any­more.

But the legally deaf Seat­tle Sea­hawks full­back will study the signer spelling out the words to the na­tional an­them while so­prano Re­nee Flem­ing sings them be­fore Su­per Bowl XLVIII Sun­day at MetLife Sta­dium.

Cole­man and the peo­ple who re­ally know him will share the gutwrench­ing emo­tion and teary tra­vails that brought him to where he is to­day, a vo­cal spokesman for hearingimpaired Amer­i­cans.

The com­mer­cial Cole­man did for Du­ra­cell, which makes bat­ter­ies for the hear­ing aids he uses to live life on life's terms is so pow­er­ful it's dif­fi­cult to watch with­out chok­ing up.

“The fact that they do it at ev­ery big event you have, ba­si­cally when peo­ple see that there's more aware­ness,” Cole­man said Wed­nes­day. “And that's re­ally what that com­mer­cial was about was spread­ing the aware­ness that hear­ing is a prob­lem in the United States and the world. And we've just got to ed­u­cate every­body about it to help us so that we can help you, too. Be­cause there's some things you guys can learn from us, too.”

“… They told me it couldn't be done. That I was a lost cause … ”

Du­ra­cell com­mer­cial fea­tur­ing Der­rick Cole­man.

Cole­man has eight re­cep­tions for 62 yards and one touch­down this sea­son. The un­drafted prod­uct out of UCLA has two rushes for three yards and im­mense re­spect from team­mates, in­clud- ing vet­eran full­back Michael Robin­son.

“I love D.C. I tell him all the time,” Robin­son said. “I have the ut­most re­spect for what he does and how he plays this game. I couldn't imag­ine be­ing im­paired in some way, whether it's hear­ing or sight or what­ever, and he does a great job. It's been awe­some work­ing with him and he is the fu­ture of the full­back po­si­tion here. He un­der­stands that I know that so I just try to give him as much knowl­edge and help him out as much as pos­si­ble.”

Cole­man lost his hear­ing 20 years ago, at age 3, due to a ge­netic con­di­tion. His mother, May Ham­lin, de­cided he wouldn't lose him­self.

When Cole­man got the itch to play foot­ball, Ham­lin fas­tened hear­ing aids in­side his hel­met with panty­hose. Coaches, fear­ing for his well-be­ing in some cases and in oth­ers not want­ing to bother, blocked him. They couldn't keep this strong­willed player down. And now it's a na­tional story.

“We wanted to in­spire oth­ers,” Cole­man said of the pact he formed with Du­ra­cell. “We wanted to let them know what­ever ac­com­plish­ments you want to achieve re­gard­less of what­ever ob­sta­cles you want to over­come you can al­ways do it. Just trust the power within and do what you want to do your best. And that's ba­si­cally what I'm do­ing.”

In the com­mer­cial Cole­man played him­self. It spells out hope, not just for the hear­ing im­paired but oth­ers suf­fer­ing on other lev­els.

To com­mu­ni­cate in foot­ball Cole­man uses wa­ter-re­sis­tant hear­ing aids and reads the lips of the quar­ter­back. Cole­man stays next to the quar­ter­back to pick up the sound or sta­tions him­self di­rectly across from him in the hud­dle to read lips.

Yes, there are mis­takes. Cole­man knows how to learn from them.

“I al­ready have to be more aware of my sur­round­ings,” he said. “I al­ways have to put in ex­tra ef­fort in what­ever I do.”

Cole­man has gone above and be­yond the av­er­age man to set the bar high. The cor­re­spon­dence he re­ceives from the hear­ing im­paired is hum­bling.

“Every­body has prob­lems,” Cole­man said. “No­body is per­fect. I wear hear­ing aids, some peo­ple have glasses, some peo­ple have de­pres­sion. Every­body has got some­thing. As long as you don't let that get in the way you can do what you want to do.”

While class­mates stud­ied Span­ish, Cole­man tried sign lan­guage. He gave it up be­cause, well, there weren't enough class­mates to use it.

“It's kind of hard when you don't re­ally have any­body to sign with to keep it,” Cole­man said. “I know like the re­ally ba­sic stuff. I in­ter­act with every­body so well. If you see me on the street walk­ing you would never know. Un­less you ac­tu­ally see my hear­ing aids you would never know that you were hear­ing im­paired.”

When you see Der­rick Cole­man play Sun­day night you may not be able to tell the dif­fer­ence be­tween him and Michael Robin­son.

“… But I've been deaf since I was 3. So I didn't lis­ten … ”

Cole­man in Du­ra­cell com­mer­cial.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.