When Derrick Coleman tackled Trindon Holliday at the 14-yard line on the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLVIII, he wasn't making that play to be an inspiration or to make history.
The Seattle Seahawks' fullback and special teams standout was just being what he always believed he had the talent to be: an important player on an NFL team.
Yet even if it wasn't his initial goal in pursuing an NFL career, Coleman has made history, becoming just the third deaf player in league history, and first to play on offense, and his story has inspired countless hearing impaired kids, which is why he jumped at the opportunity to write a book last year while recovering from the fractured foot that ended his 2014 season.
"The first thing I said was, 'I don't care about the money right now. I just want to put something out that I can share, so the people who need it can have something.'" Coleman said of writing a book. "… A lot of kids, a lot of parents asked my mom and dad and me, 'how did you guys do it? How did you guys cope?' So I got a ghostwriter (Marcus Brotherton) and we wrote a book. It's literally like I'm sitting on the other side of you and we're having a conversation.
"It was important to me, because I know we're all one community. I'm reaching out for the hearing-impaired community and all the kids who have been bullied. One, I want to raise awareness and let people know, hey, this stuff is real, this isn't fake. On top of that, it's nice to let other people know who might be going through the same thing that they're not alone. Nobody wants to go through something alone, especially something bad."
Coleman's book, "No Excuses," came out earlier this month, and he will sign copies at Fred Meyer in Kirkland from 2-4 p.m. Saturday and at Third Place Books in Lake Forest Park from noon-2 p.m. Sunday. Coleman begins his book with the disappointment of going undrafted in 2012, then tells the story of his remarkable life, from finding out he was legally deaf as a young child, to using football as an outlet for his energy, to his career at UCLA, then the NFL, and yes, to eventually to being on the field for the first play of the first Super Bowl victory in franchise history.
"I remember exactly what it felt like when our kicker, Steven Hauschka, set the ball down on the tee," Coleman writes. "It was like I woke up. I was still in a dream more amazing than I could ever imagine, but I was seeing everything with a new clarity."
As Coleman writes, he grew up supported by loving parents and family, but that doesn't mean things were always easy. He felt different, he was sometimes bullied, and even after proving he had the talent to play football, he was told he couldn't play at the highest level because of his disability. In one scene in the book, Coleman's agent brings up his client over beers with unnamed NFL scouts. They rave about Coleman's impressive Pro Day workout, then add, "But we won't touch him. Sorry to say, but it's the truth." Having overcome a significant hurdle in order to play for UCLA and then in the NFL, Coleman quickly realized he could make a difference for other hearing impaired kids when, while at UCLA, he occasionally visited elementary and middle schools to talk to students.
"Talking to kids, letting 'em know, 'hey, I made it to college. There's not a lot of people who can play college football and have hearing impairment. The sky's the limit for you; I'm nobody special. If I can make it to college, y'all can to. Don't have any excuse. Whatever you want to do, do it, have fun and don't worry about other people,'" Coleman said.
In perhaps the strongest testament to Coleman's ability to overcome obstacles, he is less often talked about as a deaf football player these days as he is as a key player for one of the NFL's best teams. Pete Carroll didn't single Coleman at last week's Seahawks Town Hall to talk about an inspirational player; he was excited to be getting one of his best special teams players and his starting fullback back from an injury. Coleman is now as much a trailblazer for Marshawn Lynch as he is for other hearing impaired people, which was the goal all along.
Coleman has recovered from his foot injury and participated in all of Seattle's Organized Team Activities, which wrapped up Thursday, and is preparing for his second season as the Seahawks' likely starter at fullback.
"It feels good just being out here, that's why I'm cherishing this," Coleman said. "(The injury) was tough. I'd rather it not happen at all, but at least in a game. It was just one of those things. Like I always tell people, our bodies were made for loving, not fighting."
And hearing impaired or not, Coleman was made for the NFL, a dream that didn't always seem attainable, but that has come true and is now the topic of an inspirational new book.
Wednesday sees another day outside for day 9 of organized team activity.