1st deaf NFL player Bonnie Sloan honored in Hendersonville - WKRN News 2

1st deaf NFL player Bonnie Sloan honored in Hendersonville


The city of Hendersonville honored a former professional football player and a hometown hero with a special proclamation over the weekend.

Sunday, August 25, was declared "Bonnie Sloan Day" in honor of Bonnie Sloan, the first deaf player in the National Football League.

Sloan was born deaf. Although his hearing impairment affected his speech, it did not appear to have an impact on his playing skills.

Sloan was a football standout at Isaac Litton High School.

In 1967, he was named All-Nashville, All-State, and All-Southern. He was picked up by Austin Peay State University (APSU) as a defensive tackle, and received Honorable Mention All-American honors his senior year.

He was inducted into the university's Hall of Fame in 1981.

In 1973, Sloan was drafted by the St. Louis Cardinals, now known as the Arizona Cardinals, but his career was cut short by a knee injury that same year.

Family, friends, and fans gathered at Hendersonville City Hall Sunday afternoon to celebrate his career and his place in history.

The celebration for "Bonnie Sloan Day" included a special presentation and a sign posted at Drakes Creek Park in Hendersonville, the city where Sloan currently lives.

Representatives of the Tennessee Titans and the athletic director of APSU were also in attendance. Letters from former Titans Head Coach Jeff Fisher and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell were read at the ceremony.

Poppy O'Guin Steele, Executive Director of Sign Club Co., said Sloan is "this wonderful man who broke through boundaries much stronger than any linemen."

Sign Club Co. is a Sumner County-based organization that promotes conversational sign language among deaf and hearing individuals, as well as a deaf-friendly community.

Steele added about Sloan, "He is a role model for so many deaf and hearing children."

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