The biggest game in the NFL is this Sunday, the Super Bowl! Football is a very tactical and physical game, can you imagine trying to play in a big game and not being able to hear your teammates, play calls or the whistle of the referee? The continued trauma of the hits players take on the field, causing an increased chance of a concussion, puts most players at a risk of hearing loss. This can cause most players to gracefully bow out when their hearing is compromised but these athletes overcame the adversity of hearing loss and have/had successful NFL careers.
Derrick Coleman (Seattle Seahawks):
- Derick Coleman played three seasons with the Seahawks, before being drafted as a free agent in 2012. Coleman lost his hearing at very young age because both of his parents happen to be missing a hearing gene. Coleman, played in the 2014 Super Bowl, which resulted in a win for the Seahawks, and he wears hearing aids in his helmet in addition to a “tight cap barrier”. Interestingly enough he communicates by lip reading and talking, he’s the first deaf player to win a Super Bowl.
Larry Brown (Washington Red Skins 1969 – 1976; 1972 NFL MVP):
- Brown was the first reported NFL player with hearing loss. It’s unknown how he lost the hearing in his right ear, but his coach Vince Lombardi noticed the hearing loss and acted. After taking a hearing test, the NFL Commissioner installed a hearing aid in Brown’s helmet and he went on to become the NFL MVP in 1972.
Bonnie Sloan (St. Louis Cardinals 1973)
- Playing only 4 games with the Saint Louis Cardinals (currently the Arizona Cardinals), Sloan was born deaf and used sign language to communicate. Early on he was discouraged by coaches when it came to playing football, but his elementary school gym teacher gave him a chance to try out for the school team.
Fonzell Adams (Denver Broncos & Pittsburg Steelers, 1998 -2010)
- Despite being deaf in one ear Adams had a successful NFL career, a 5-time Pro Bowl selection. In 2010 he was a part of the Steeler’s Super Bowl XLV team, playing right tackle.
Kenny Walker (Denver Broncos, 1991 – 1992)
- As a result of contracting spinal meningitis at two years old, Kenny Walker was said to be a “profoundly deaf athlete”. Walker is the second player to use sign language to communicate and can only hear noise over 110 decibels.