Bonnie Sloan became the first deaf person to play in the NFL in 1973. The odd thing about it, though, is it has only been in the last few years that it has made him into an inspirational figure.
Sloan was a 10th-round draft pick out of Austin Peay, he was a longshot, but he made it, playing in four games at defensive tackle for the St. Louis Cardinals during his one and only season.
The way he remembers it, his brief career came and went and nobody seemed to think much of it.
“It has just in the past few years that really being the first deaf football player has been recognized by awards and such,” he told FOXSports.com this week via e-mail. “It is amazing to me how after all these years people still want to recognize me for something that happened so long ago.”
The next was Kenny Walker, a defensive lineman who played at Nebraska, was drafted in the eighth round, and played in 31 games for the Denver Broncos from 1991-92.
The third — and current one — is running back Derrick Coleman, who entered the NFL in 2012 as an undrafted free agent and is on the Seattle Seahawks’ Super Bowl roster.