Football Sign Language on the sidelines


Ken Norton, a deaf man, coached football for many
years at California School for the Deaf. He has many
football tales – but one was the funniest.


In one game against a hearing team, the referee would
not allow him to use sign langauge to give signals
directly (face to face) to the quarterback. It was
the only time in his coaching career that he was
not “permitted” to use sign language! What should
he do? He quickly thought of a solution.


Norton would “communicate in ASL” with his
assistant coach, standing few feet away. The
quarterback, on the field, would pretend to be
“nosey” and watch the ASL conversation between
the coaches to get the signal.

The referee confronted Ken, saying he cannot
do that with his assistant coach. Ken replied,
saying he has every right in the world to
communicate in ASL with his assistant coaches
at any time during the game!


The referee backed off, and the deaf team won
the game.