WASHINGTON, DC– Gallaudet University is known for a number of things. It was founded by Abraham Lincoln in 1864 as the world’s first university for people who are deaf or hard of hearing. In 1988, it was the scene of possibly the most successful student protest uprising ever. When Gallaudet appointed a new president with normal hearing, students and some sympathetic faculty launched the Deaf President Now movement. After demonstrations and other actions, including shutting down the campus, the protestors achieved their goal of having a deaf person, I. King Jordan, named president.
However, Gallaudet has not been famous for its prowess on the football field, not, that is, until this fall. True, its football team, the Bison, is credited with inventing the huddle for calling plays, designed to prevent the opposing team from seeing the sign language the players used to communicate. But when it came to their record on the field, most years there have been more losses than wins.
However, this fall the Gallaudet finished with a 9-2 record and won its first Eastern Collegiate Football Conference title. That qualified it to make its debut in the NCAA Division III tournament. The Bison were eliminated in the first round of the tournament by Hobart, which, like most of Gallaudet’s opponents, is a much larger school. However, the team matched its school record with nine wins and also extended its winning streak started in 2012 to 11 games.
For most of the seniors on the team, the loss to Hobart on November 30 probably marked the end of their football careers. However, that’s not the case for Adham Talaat, a 6-foot, 6-inch, 275-pound defensive lineman whose talents have caught the attention of NFL scouts. Tallat, who was a team leader in sacks despite being regularly double- or even triple-teamed, is considered a possible draft pick, despite his severe-to-profound hearing loss, for which we wears hearing aids on and off the gridiron.
If Talaat does make it to the NFL, he won’t be the first deaf player. There have been a few others, including running back Derrick Coleman, a UCLA alumnus who is now a running back with the Seattle Seahawks.