Reading Time: 3 minutes

Seahawks’ legally deaf fullback thanks God for blessings

Dr. Jim Denison is a cultural apologist who helps people respond biblically and redemptively to the vital issues of our day. He is also the co-founder and Chief Vision Officer of the Denison Forum, a Dallas-based nonprofit that comments on current issues through a biblical lens.

facebook twitter instagram

Seahawks running back Derrick Coleman talks to students at Baker Middle School in Tacoma about how he's gained success despite a hearing impairment, December 10, 2013 (Credit: The News Tribune/Joe Barretine)

Derrick Coleman, the first legally deaf offensive player in the National Football League, is one of the most uplifting stories of this year’s Super Bowl.  Recently, a nine-year-old hearing-impaired girl wrote to thank him for being her “insperation” and said, “Just try your best.  I have faif in you.”  Her father tweeted a photo of her note, which then generated more than 800,000 page views on  Derrick responded with a handwritten letter in which he said, “Even though we wear hearing aids, we can still accomplish our goals & dreams!”

A handwritten note from 9 year-old Riley Kovalcik to Seattle Seahawks Derrick Coleman to thank him for being an inspiration (Credit: Jake Kovalcik via Twitter)Derrick has been deaf since the age of three.  He learned to play football while wearing hearing aids and reading lips.  His mother modified panty hose for him to wear over his head so that his hearing aids would work on the field.  He remembers kids making fun of him: “You know how people that wear glasses, they call them four eyes, they called me four ears.”

Coleman went on to star on the football field at UCLA.  His college coach observed, “Derrick has overcome his disability in such a way that no one even notices it’s a disability.”  He graduated with a degree in political science and has played fullback for Seattle since 2012.  

In an ad featuring his story he says, “They told me it couldn’t be done, that I was a lost cause.  I was picked on, and picked last.  Coaches didn’t know how to talk to me.  They gave up on me, told me I should just quit.  They didn’t call my name, told me it was over.  But I’ve been deaf since I was three, so I didn’t listen.  And now I’m here, with a lot of fans in the NFL cheering me on.  And I can hear them all.”{source}
<iframe style=”float: left; border: 1px solid #000000; background-color: #C0C0C0; padding: 2px; margin: 10px; -moz-border-radius: 3px; -khtml-border-radius: 3px; -webkit-border-radius: 3px; border-radius: 3px;” width=”400″ height=”225″ src=”″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen></iframe>{/source}

Coleman explains his success: “Every day I wake up and I get a chance.  I always say that God blessed me this morning and I can do what I can do.  Our time in this world is very limited.  It can be gone now or it can be gone later so I take advantage of every opportunity I have whether it’s playing football, working or whatever.  I’m just a happy guy.”

He told an impressed interviewer, “Being different to me is a good thing.  You don’t want to be the same as everybody else.  I wouldn’t be the type of person I am today if I didn’t have my hearing [loss].  I’d be somebody completely different.”  Grinning, he then added, “I like the type of person I am today.”

Paul assured us that “the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).  He gave thanks for his “thorn in the flesh,” as God used it to teach him that “my grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9).

What adversity has God redeemed in your life?  Please share your story in our comments section.  And remember Holocaust survivor Corrie ten Boom’s observation: “When a train goes through a tunnel and it gets dark, you don’t throw away the ticket and jump off.  You sit still and trust the engineer.”