Atlanta Falcons fullback Derrick Coleman did not play in the fourth preseason game. Because he’s not injured, that probably means something, and for Coleman, it probably means the world.
Coleman’s story is well-documented, so I’ll just reiterate the highlights. He’s the NFL’s only deaf player. A single indiscretion kept him out of the league in 2016. From Super Bowl Champion to just another criminal defendant, he was found guilty 10 months ago of felony vehicular assault. It was an enormous fall from grace for a man that is widely admired for both his character and his abilities as a football player.
Head coach Dan Quinn made the decision to keep Coleman on the sideline tonight. That’s a strong signal that Coleman made the team. He’s going to replace Pro Bowl fullback Patrick DiMarco, who signed with the Buffalo Bills in the off-season, which means he has big shoes to fill.
Quinn signed Coleman for a reason. Because Quinn knew Coleman as a man, he knew his arrest and subsequent conviction didn’t define him. That doesn’t mean the job was handed to Coleman, assuming he did in fact make the team. Coleman may have had the inside track, but let’s be clear, he earned it, just like Quinn knew he would.