Derrick Coleman & Deaf Football History

I’m in the progress of learning about a sport. I’m learning about football.

You see, my hometown is playing in the Superbowl today – I’m just lucky that the Seattle Seahawks aren’t playing against EITHER New York City football team, since I was born here, but raised in Seattle. That’d be a tear in my loyalties.

Fortunately, I am spared from this particular pain, and can proudly say GO HAWKS!

But I’m not saying that just because I’m from Seattle, Washington. I’m saying that because I’m deaf, and for the first time in my memory, a deaf person is playing professional sports – and while for some news outlets it’s an inspirational story, for me it’s amazing to get to have deaf pride over something normal able bodied people get excited about.

Derrick Coleman – I’m a huge fan of you, and I’m not even a sports fan. I’m just proud to be a Seattleite, and to be a deaf woman who can be proud to see you play.

“Being deaf, being hard of hearing is who I am, so I’m not going to let someone else come in here and say ‘Oh, you’re deaf,’” he said. “That’s who I am. It made me who I am today.”

He taught himself to read lips because even his powerful hearing aids weren’t always enough.

“I can rely on reading lips. That’s the advantage that most people don’t have. They don’t know how to read lips — like when the hearing goes out what do you do? They kind of freak out,” Coleman said. – Source: ABC News

So, in honor of Derrick Coleman, we’re going to have a bunch of facts about how the Deaf have been a part of football history – welcome to Feminist Sonar’s Superbowl Sunday: Disability Factoids Edition!

Fact 1: Derrick Coleman got the two hearing impaired girls tickets to see the Superbowl today, as a response to their letter from twitter. 

Fact 2: Fans of Oregon State University’s football team, the Ducks, use the ASL sign for “vagina” as a hand symbol to show their pride for their team. The New York Times reported that the football players actually have taken ASL and are both aware, and somewhat shamefaced, that their fans don’t realize this. Try to even out the roundness on that hand sign, and you might change that. Source: NYT “The Oops in the  for ‘O’ for Oregon”

Fact 3: Did you know that a Deaf quarterback invented the huddle? When Paul Huddbard realized that players on the opposing team could read the signs used by his Gaulladet University teammates, he encouraged them to circle around to hide their signs from the other team.

Fact 4: Coleman is the first offensive player in the NFL to also be deaf.

I wear a hearing aid, I am deaf, and I am proud to support the Seahawks today, and especially Coleman, as they approach the Superbowl.

I’ve never wanted to meet a sports player before, but this one? I totally do. I want his autograph, and I want to thank him for proving that just because you’re disabled doesn’t mean you have to listen to what the able bodied people tell you what you can and cannot do.

So. GO….

(Image credit: imgur)

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