Like a lot of Americans, 11-year-old Trever is excited for Super Bowl XLVIII. A lifelong Denver Broncos fan, Trever would normally have plenty of trash-talk ready for his team’s opponents, the Seattle Seahawks, but this year even he’s a little torn about whom to cheer for on game day.
What could possibly make a die-hard Denver fan like Trever question his loyalty? A minute-long TV commercial starting Derrick Coleman, the first deaf offensive player to make it to the NFL:
Like Coleman, Trever is a football player— he’s a kicker, punt returner and linesman for both the defensive and offensive squads of his Walpole team. Also like Coleman, Trever is deaf.
“The whole commercial was very inspiring to me, both as a deaf person and a football player,” says Trever, who receives treatment from the team at the Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Enhancement at Boston Children’s Hospital. “It helps me to be more confident about myself.”
And Trever’s not the only one who was inspired by Coleman’s message. Elizabeth Erickson O’Neill, AuD, CCC-A, an audiologist at Boston Children’s, was equally floored when she first saw the commercial.
“Coleman’s story so perfectly expresses the notion that a hearing condition doesn’t define a person—his or her actions do,” she says. “That message is a cornerstone of the treatment and education we provide to our patients. To have it come from a popular pro athlete on the national stage is heartwarming.”
The son of two lifelong football fans, Trever has been watching the game since before he could walk and couldn’t wait until he was old enough to go out for his local team. But when he finally came of age, his parents were worried a hard hit could affect his cochlear implants, the devices surgically implanted in his ears to provide him with a sense of sound.
“We had no idea about whether or not a tough tackle could jostle the interior part of his implants, possibly damaging his ear canals or the devices,” says his mother Heather. “But he so desperately wanted to be on the field with the other kids, I couldn’t say no.” (To keep him safe, Trever wears a specially fitted helmet that protects him from concussions and helps to protect his implants.)
Despite the similarities Trever and Coleman share, Trever wasn’t aware of the Seahawks player until recently, when Heather showed him the Duracell ad. “The first time I saw it I almost burst into tears, it was so moving,” she says. “The second Trever got home that day I showed it to him and his face just lit up. He so clearly identified with everything being said, it really was amazing to watch.”
And while Coleman has certainly gained some new die-hard fans, Trever and his dad Brian have always cheered for Denver—they even named the family cat Bronco. Will a newfound kinship with Coleman be enough for them to trade their Broncos gear for a pair of blue and green Seahawk jerseys this weekend?
“Seeing that awesome commercial made me consider rooting for the Seahawks, and I’m a huge Derrick Coleman fan now, but no matter what I will always root for the Broncos,” Trever says. “Any time Seattle’s not playing Denver, I’ll cheer for them, but this Sunday it’s still all about the Broncos.”
The Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Enhancement at Boston Children’s offers comprehensive services for children who are deaf or hard of hearing. Our Diagnostic Audiology Program assesses the child’s hearing and helps to guide the family toward the right kinds of help the Habilitative Audiology Program helps the child to use cochlear implants and assistive devices when hearing aids do not give enough sound; the Deaf and Hard of Hearing Program watches out for the child’s thriving in language, cognition and emotional well-being; and Otolaryngology cares for the child’s hearing health needs in collaboration with other specialists. One of the largest and most experienced programs of its kind in the country, the Department offers patients access to speech-language pathologists, audiologists, otolaryngologists, a psychiatrist, psychologists, an occupational therapist, onsite support services and an outreach coordinator. It’s the only center of its kind in the area to offer such comprehensive evaluation and consultative services to its families.
To speak with a member of our team, please visit the Department of Otolaryngology and Communication Enhancement website and use the “request an appointment” button.