Derrick Coleman getting loud response to ad featuring his deafness
Seahawks backup fullback Derrick Coleman has become an Internet sensation thanks to a battery commercial that tells his story of overcoming partial deafness to make it in the NFL.
Seattle Times staff reporter
RENTON — As media descended on Seahawks players before practice Thursday, one of the biggest crowds surrounded a seemingly unlikely figure — backup fullback Derrick Coleman.
Coleman, though, is getting used to the attention. He’s become a sudden Internet and television-commercial sensation from an advertisement for Duracell batteries that tells his story of overcoming partial deafness to make it to the NFL.
Coleman uses batteries to power the hearing aids he says give him hearing on a scale of 7 or 8 out of 10, compared to the 1 or 2 he says he has without them. Coleman, who also starred at UCLA, suffered a sudden loss of most of his hearing at age 3 and is legally deaf.
The ad was published on YouTube last Friday, and as of Thursday afternoon had been viewed more than 5 million times.
“Not this big,” Coleman said when asked if he anticipated the response the ad campaign is getting. “I knew I was going to be able to touch some people, and that the hearing-impaired and deaf community — that it would get to them. ... but I am happy that it did.”
Coleman said everything depicted in the commercial, in which he stars, is “all true” and that he was often picked last for games as a child due to others not understanding his situation.
Coleman went on to become a standout player at Troy High in Fullerton, Calif., before embarking on a four-year career at UCLA.
People have told him that they, or people they know, have choked up watching the commercials.
“I don’t really know how to respond to that,” he said with a laugh. “But I’m glad that it really got to everybody.”
Coleman also uses his lip-reading ability to communicate on the field, and coach Pete Carroll said that after Coleman’s first day, it became apparent that his hearing would not be a problem.
“The fact that he has a hearing issue is really not even something that we deal with,” Carroll said.
Wright optimistic he’ll make it back
Seahawk linebacker K.J. Wright participated fully in practice Thursday, another positive step on his road back after breaking his foot against the San Francisco 49ers on Dec. 8.
Wright practiced on Wednesday for the first time since the injury, doing so in a limited fashion. He said on Thursday he hoped to show coaches he could play.
“I feel fine,” Wright said. “I’m still day-to-day. I’m just trying to get back and get the rust off me and get back out there moving on the football field.”
Wright was injured in the second quarter on what he said was a fluke play.
“Just a freak injury,” he said. “I was running, the ball was thrown behind me and I just tried to turn around and run to the ball and it pretty much just snapped on me — just gave out. That’s how they say all of them happen — don’t nobody touch you, it just breaks pretty much.”
Harvin again sits out
The only Seattle player not practicing Thursday was receiver Percy Harvin, again sidelined with a concussion suffered against the Saints Saturday. Carroll said before practice that Harvin still must be cleared by doctors, and it remains uncertain if he will play against the 49ers.