Vikings rookie RB won’t let hearing problem hold him back


If somebody tells Derrick Coleman he doesn’t have much of a shot in Vikings camp, he won’t hear it.

Not because he’s unwilling. Because he can’t.

The undrafted rookie running back from UCLA has the added challenge of being hard of hearing, requiring effort most players don’t have to expend, just to know what play to run.

“I never let it hold me back,” Coleman told Chip Scoggins of the Minneapolis Star-Tribune. “Not once.”

Coleman was diagnosed with the condition, caused by a missing gene, when he was 3 years old. He wears hearing aids, but any situation with a lot of ambient noise (like a football game), renders them not much help and requires him to read lips. Sometimes in a huddle, that means grabbing the quarterback after a play call to double-check. He told Scoggins he only had three communication problems on the field, and two of them were as a high school freshman.

“I always know what the play is going to be,” he said. “I don’t move until the ball moves so I shouldn’t have a false-start incident.”

His parents never let him use the condition as a crutch, and to this day he’s become a master at adapting. He wears a pair of skull caps under his helmet; one to keep his hearing aids dry and one to keep them in his ears.

He’s also been willing to talk to hearing-impaired students, trying to erase any stigma bullies might latch onto by pointing out that kids with less-than-perfect sight wear glasses all the time.

“It really serves as an inspiration to those kids because what happens is those kids tend to go into their own shell,” said Coleman’s father, Derrick Sr. “They think, ‘Well, I’m different. I’m not like the other kids.’ Derrick helps dispel that.”

Whether he makes the Vikings roster or not, that makes Coleman’s story worth following, and admiring.

14 responses to “Vikings rookie RB won’t let hearing problem hold him back

  1. What a fantastic story. Sounds like he had great parents and the way they raised him has paid off big time. I wish him all the best.

  2. This is an inspiring story and to quote a great line from “Forrest Gump”: “you gotta do the best with what God gave you.” Knowing with it’s like to deal with hearing loss myself, I know nothing comes as easy as others with full hearing. Best of luck this summer and I hope Coleman cracks the roster.

  3. Good luck to him. I hope he succeeds.

    In high school we played a team with a deaf running back. He was leading the entire Bay Area in rushing that season at about 8 yards per carry.

    Thankfully it poured rain and his moves were somewhat limited. I think we held him to under 100 yards that day. If it had been a dry track, he would have lit us up without a doubt.

    Glad to see these guys doing what they want in life rather than these other millionaire cry babies using every excuse under the sun to underachieve.

  4. Great story, and inspirational for me, as a parent of a child who wears hearing aids and soon to have a cochlear implant, this is an important story for my family.

    the Reallionnaire

  5. Having been born with a hearing loss and playing sports as well this is good to hear that someone has made it in the NFL with the same situation as me. This gives me motivation to do better this coming football season and not let this disability get in my way.

  6. Good for him. On the good side, he won’t have to listen to those God-awful songs when he plays at Lambeau, not to mention the goofy horn at our home games.

  7. If he’s fast and also can tackle, I could see him making the team even if it’s more of a special teams player. He would make a good gunner on kicks or maybe returning them.

  8. Couldn’t they let him wear the same speaker that the QBs wear? I would think this is something the NFL should allow for cases like this, where the player has this type of handicap. and it really wouldn’t give him any advantage would it?

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