By Eric Tabor
He has the size for the defensive line at 6-foot-3 and 345 pounds.
He has good technique, which he learned in college at Western Kentucky University and Edward Waters College.
He has the desire to take his game to the next level.
Munir Muwwakkil is a defensive nose tackle for the Albany Panthers, a Southern Indoor Football Team, and like most football players, he’d like to make it to the NFL. But should he fulfill that dream and be introduced before a game, Muwwakkil will never hear the crowd’s response to his introduction.
That’s because Muwwakkil has been deaf since he was 3, when he was stricken with an illness that eventually led to his total loss of hearing.
“I was sad at first, very disappointed, but I’ve made the best of it,” he said through sign language. “I’ve learned to deal with it, and now I feel comfortable with being deaf. It’s not a handicap.”
Muwwakkil’s teammates took an instant liking to him. Many have learned hand-signing — some better than others — and can communicate with him. Teammate Larry Edwards has learned enough signing that he will signal plays to Muwwakkil, who nods and carries out his assignment, as he will during Saturday night’s road game against the Fayetteville Force.
The fact that teammates and some coaches have learned hand signs is comforting to Muwwakkil.
“I really like it here,” he said through an interpreter. “The coaches have helped me a lot, and they have done a good job in communicating with me with some hand signs and letting me use wristbands with the plays on it. The same with some of my teammates, who also sign with me. It makes me happy that my teammates have taken the time to learn signing.”
“Munir has been a big impact on this team,” Panther head coach Lucious Davis said. “He’s powerfully strong. I believe he can play at the next level. He’s strong in the weight room, bench-pressing 425 and squatting 650.”
“We don’t look at Munir having a handicap, a disability. He’s a player, just one of the players.”