A Super Bowl Champ, Loud and Clear Conversation with Derrick Coleman
Innovation & Tech Today: After winning the Super Bowl, how amazing has your off-season been? Your Duracell commercial has gotten over 22 million views on YouTube. Did the popularity of it surprise you?
Derrick Coleman: After winning the Super Bowl in my second year, my first year (actually) playing, I was trying to stay low-key, but that never happened. I went to Fiji for vacation, then came back and trained, but then went all over to help promote Duracell at events. I never thought that the commercial would be a huge success like it was and still is. The response that I get from people personally and written is heartwarming, and I know what I’m doing and going through, I am not alone.
I&T Today: You’re an inspiration to so many. What advice would you give to children who face obstacles (physical or otherwise) to their dreams?
DC: The advice that i give to everyone if you really want something, find a way to make it work. Make no excuse in going for your dream. If you think back to when you were a teenager and your mom told you to do your homework or chores or whatnot, you found an excuse not to do it. But when you wanted that new pair of shoes or to go to a dance or something, you did whatever you had to do to make sure you went or got what you wanted. Everyone needs to have that mind state in everything they do. Second biggest thing I tell people is very straightforward: you either work hard now and have fun later, or have fun now and work hard later.
I&T Today: Did you have a favorite athlete growing up?
DC: I grew up a Chargers fan, and LaDainian Tomlinson was the running back that I always wanted to be like. He had effort in every aspect of his game. Even on his bad games, there was no doubt that he tried everything he could.
I&T Today: What type of hearing assistance technology is working best for you in game situations, and also in your private life?
DC: I wear hearing aids in both my ears, regardless of what I’m doing. The only time I ever take them out is when I shower, go swimming, and sometimes when I sleep, but usually only one. I play every sport with them in. I want to be able to hear what’s going on around me, and not hearing takes away a huge part of my ability to get the task at hand done.
I&T Today: What are the biggest obstacles when playing a sport like football, which is so dependent on verbal communication? Have these obstacles changed over the years?
DC: The biggest obstacles are just making sure everyone that on the field knows I’m there and if they need to communicate with me, to be extra loud. Or, number one, to make sure they look at me so I can read their lips, which I do in every aspect of my life. I’m still having to prove to people that despite my hard-of-hearing status, I can still play football and get my job done. Just because I need some adjustment and all doesn’t mean that I can’t play.
I&T Today: Does the team, or (quarterback) Russell Wilson, operate with a specific set of hand signals for you? How similar is it to what QB’s use when they’re in stadiums where they can’t hear?
DC: Everything the team does on offense, everyone knows – the signal, the calls, everything. The only thing that Russell or who ever the QB has to do is make sure he looks at me in the huddle while calling the play. If we are about to run a play and he wants to audible it, he knows to turn around and tell me the play one more time so I can read his lips. I said this from Day One. That not only helps me, but sometimes when I’m playing fullback and the running back is behind me, he may not have heard Russell in loud stadiums where we play.
I&T Today: Besides winning the Super Bowl, what moments stand out to you from the 2013 season?
DC: Making the roster after preseason was one of the biggest moments of the whole season. I proved myself not only to others that said I couldn’t make the squad, or to everyone who had my back since the beginning, but to myself that all the sacrifices I made over the years were finally paying off and I know I did everything I could to maximize my opportunity to play my dream.
I&T Today: Did you feel the noise in the stadium on the deflected ball you returned for a touchdown against New Orleans?
DC: I felt everything – the noise, the rush, the ground. It was one of the most amazing moments. I have scored many touchdowns in high school and college, but that one against the Saints topped them all. It was an a NFL game.
I&T Today: What kind of technology do you enjoy at home? Do you use any wearable fitness trackers, or monitors? They seem to be very popular right now. Do you enjoy interacting with fans on social media? What is your favorite platform? Do the other guys on the team have a favorite?
DC: I love technology so much that I found myself cutting back. Recently, I deactivated my personal Instagram and Facebook because I found myself on it too much. I wear the Nike fuel band all the time, even at practice. Some of my teammates compete to see who can get the most fuel points before we leave the facility. I love all apple products. I have the MacBooks, iPad, iPhone and Apple TV. I have the Amazon Kindle so I can read when I have a chance.
I am normally on Twitter now and have a Facebook fan page that I reply back to. I love responding to fans and kids who are going through the same things I went through as a kid regarding hearing aids and bullying. I reply back because I only wish there was someone like me when I a kid to help me get through tough times. You tend to listen to people who have been through what you’re going through more then you would to people who never experience anything.
I&T Today: What’s it like to play for Pete Carroll? He seems to be a cool coach who enjoys technology. He is pretty active on Twitter and we heard he has a DJ on the practice field.
DC: Coach C is one of the most energetic coaches I ever played for. He’s a player’s coach. He thinks about taking care of us and finding ways to maximize our playing style. He has a philosophy and he sticks with it because it has always worked and always will, in my opinion.
I&T Today: What are your personal goals for the 2014 season?
DC: To become more consistent in every aspect of my game. “Be dependable,” my running back coach always says.
I&T Today: Tell us a little about your sponsors (like Starkey) and how they are
helping to make an impact in others’ lives? What can our readers do to
help out with your foundation?
DC: The Starkey Hearing Foundation is the company that makes my hearing aids. They are the top hearing aid company based in the United States. The reason I partner with them is because not only are their hearing aids fantastic and give my ears the best hearing has to offer, but they also go to foreign countries, mainly third world countries, and give out hearing aids to others that never heard anything in their lives or never had the resources to have hearing aids. I wanted to be a part of something special and help out their foundation, because it’s similar to mine.
I&T Today: Which is?
DC: The Derrick L. Coleman No Excuse Foundation has two visions. The first vision is to provide support to children, teenagers or adults that need hearing technology such as hearing aids, Implants, FM systems, etc., so they are able to function and compete with the hearing community in sports, school and in the workplace.
The second vision is to bring awareness to the non hearing impaired community in hopes of decreasing the bullying that people with hearing impairment face on a daily bases. It is our hope that through educating and awareness people will be more tolerate and less likely to bully. I was bullied, picked on and called names just because I had hearing aids. We would like to partner with different schools around the nation to develop a Bully Free Zone within the school. This would be a place where children, teens and young adults can go and feel safe and free from bullying.