A legend in the NFL’s player development community has joined a national organization dedicated to building sustainable relationships between police and the community.
Lamonte Winston, who worked for the Las Vegas Raiders and the Kansas City Chiefs, recently joined Dedication To Community, an organization that works with police and the communities they serve to construct a better relationship between the two.
Winston will lead the newly created sports division of D2C, according to founder M. Quinton Williams.
“Lamonte is the connector between teams and what we do,” Williams said. “He’s the glue.”
D2C, as the organization refers to itself, seeks to build trust and accountability where it may be in short supply by asking officers to wear body cameras, for example. The organization also works with the incarcerated population.
In recent months, the sports world has waded into social justice issues, and D2C is seeking to move into that space. Williams said D2C has agreements to work with NASCAR and several teams in the NBA and NFL. Williams declined to name them, saying they plan to make the announcement of the partnership themselves.
One of the core aspects of what D2C does, according to the company, is conduct trainings with law enforcement, and focus on addressing the void that exists in the relationship between law enforcement and the communities they serve. D2C also meets with members of the community.
Winston said his goal is to do something similarly with sports so that athletes and coaches are more informed and engaged in community relations with police. Then those same athletes act as surrogates.
“My goal is to help them, train them and give them more information,” said Winston, “so then they can go out and impact others.”
Winston said he believes an organization like D2C is needed now.
“Everyone is asking, ‘What can I do to make things better?’” he said. “I think athletes can help [those] asking that question get the answer. With the large following they have, they can reach a lot of people.”
In the NFL’s player development community, an obscure but vital part of the organization that few outside the teams know about, Winston is a seen as one of the best to ever do the job. In fact, a yearly award is named after him. In 2002, the NFL created the Winston-Shell Award, named in conjunction with Hall of Fame safety Donnie Shell, and given annually to the team with the best player development program.
The main job of a director of player development is simply helping players adjust to NFL life, and once there, maintain a sense of stability. These staffers help players manage everything from mental to financial health and will guide those navigating major life changes, like a divorce or the birth of a child. From dealing with the mundane or the extremely unusual—such as the time Winston once counseled a player who had never met his father, until the man appeared just minutes before a game—they become integral to building a stable locker room.
When Winston was with the Raiders, he organized a two-day boot camp for players’ family members to educate them about the rigors of the league.
“My main thing was I just listened to players,” said Winston, “without judgment.”
Williams, who founded D2C in 2012, has a unique perspective because he was a member of law enforcement and was also an athlete and played sports at a high level. Williams played football at Boston College, is a St. John’s University Law School graduate, and served as a former FBI agent and federal prosecutor.