American football is a grueling and physically challenging game. But that certainly hasn't stopped people who are deaf or hard of hearing in taking part. Check out our list of deaf football players, who paved the way for other footballers with hearing loss.
1. Larry Brown 1969 - 1976
Larry Brown was the first known football player in the NFL to have hearing loss. Brown was deaf in one ear. He played for the Washington Redskins as a running back. Brown's coach, Vince Lombardi, noticed that Brown would often tilt his head to listen and stand close to his teammates to hear what they were saying. So Lombardi asked for Brown to have his hearing tested. Brown was worried that if they found out he was hard of hearing he'd be kicked off the team. But he wasn't dropped. Soon after his hearing examination, he was given permission to wear a hearing aid in his helmet. Larry Brown went on to have a successful career in the NFL, winning Most Valuable Player in 1972.
2. Bonnie Sloan 1973
Bonnie Sloan played 4 games as a defensive tackle for the St. Louis Cardinals (now the Arizona Cardinals) in 1973. Sloan was a decorated high school athlete but his career was cut short after he suffered a knee injury. Sloan sometimes felt as though his deafness was a challenge in the NFL at the time. A lot of people doubted his ability, including his high school football coach. His elementary school PE teacher was able to convince the high school coach to give Sloan a chance.
3. Kenny Walker 1991 - 1992
Kenny Walker became deaf after contracting spinal meningitis at the age of two. Walker played two seasons in the NFL with the Denver Broncos as a defensive lineman. After two years with the Denver Broncos, Walker moved to the Calgary Stampeders where he became the first deaf player to compete in the history of the Canadian Football League. Walker says the key to his success was having supportive programs and people around him.
4. Flozell Adams 1998 - 2010
Flozell Adams was an offensive tackle for the Dallas Cowboys and Pittsburgh Steelers. Adams is partially deaf in his right ear and had a long and successful career in football. In 2010, he made it to the Super Bowl XLV with the Pittsburgh Steelers where they played against the Green Bay Packers. The Packers defeated the Steelers 31 - 25.
To read more about these players, head to HearingLikeMe