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Winslow's new gig less flashy, more fun

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 5, 2009.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006

    August 4, 2009
    By Nick canepa

    SAN DIEGO – The life circle Kellen Winslow has drawn for himself hardly is complete or perfect. It has some wiggles to it. From high school chess whiz to Missouri All-America football player to Chargers first-round draft choice in 1979 to Hall of Famer to law school to agent to broadcaster to fighting for retired players to Disney Sports to his current position of athletic director at Central State University.

    Central State? I had to look it up. It's a historically black school of 2,200 students in rural Wilberforce, Ohio, close to Dayton. So, to borrow a bit from “Blazing Saddles,” what's a dazzling urbanite such as Kellen Boswell Winslow, the seminal tight end, the greatest of all at his position, doing in a place called Wilberforce running an NCAA Division II athletic department?

    “Good question,” says Winslow, in town this week to promote the inaugural San Diego HBCU Football Classic with Stillman College on Sept. 19 at Southwestern College. “I got a call from John Wooten. When John Wooten calls, you listen.”

    Wooten, a former Pro Bowler with the Cleveland Browns during the Jim Brown era, is, among many things, chairman of the Fritz Pollard Alliance, which promotes diversity and equality of job opportunities in NFL coaching, front offices and scouting.

    “I had just left Disney Sports and was playing golf in Florida when John called,” Winslow says. “He said Central State was looking for an AD and wondered if I'd be interested. I said I would, but when I didn't hear anything for three months, I thought it a dead issue. But 3½ months after that golf game, I found myself at Central State. That was nine months ago.

    “You take a job like this and all you hear about is the negatives, ticket sales, the facilities need repair, all that, but the best part is the young people, their lack of perception on life, and how you can help them solve their problems. I'm finding pleasure watching them grow.”

    Winslow, 51, knows he's not at Notre Dame, but always the cerebral type, he has more on his mind than fielding a good football team. Yet there's a chance. E.J. Junior, Winslow's head coaching hire, was an All-American at Alabama and played in the NFL, as did each of his assistants, including offensive coordinator Ben Coates, another former Pro Bowl tight end.

    “There were 122 kids on this team last year and 122 kids can't play Division II football,” Winslow says. “We had 149 lockers. There are 100 now. There will be 90 kids on this team; we can win with 90. Our goal is to graduate kids; we can't lose sight of that. Last year, our graduation rate in athletics was 58 percent. I want 100 percent.

    “We're not recruiting kids just to play football. Lose and graduate kids and I'll back you. Win and don't graduate kids and I'll fire you. If we're looking at a transfer, I want to know if he's on track to graduate. If not, we don't want him.”

    Winslow says historically black universities are just that – historically black. That doesn't mean they enroll only people of color.

    “They have very diverse student bodies,” he says. “People come to take advantage of the programs, that's what draws them. We want people to know that color is not an issue, that if you can play, you can play at CSU.

    “Just because it's historically black doesn't mean exclusion, it's just interpreted that way. Being at a historically black college doesn't mean less-than; in some ways, it means more-than. We're telling kids they're coming to a school that's not just black, but nurturing, more hands-on than a regular school.”

    The way Winslow describes it, what he's doing now is much more fun than being a player agent.

    “I didn't enjoy that experience at all,” he says. “I went into it with the thought of helping. It's a dirty business and finally I wanted no part of it. I've had so many kids say they should have signed with me. So many get bad advice. It wasn't a teachable moment, and I wanted to teach.”

    Winslow played his last game as a pro and a Charger in 1987, and team and player did not part amicably the next summer. Winslow had a knee problem he said would keep him from playing. Then-Chargers GM Steve Ortmayer thought otherwise and suspended him.

    “The things that went down, yeah, they (ticked) me off,” he says. “It was Ortmayer. The contract thing was easy to work out, but it became personal. They said I would do what they asked me to do. I said I'm not physically ready to play and they suspended me. I eventually got paid, but I thought I deserved better. I wasn't looking for a farewell tour; I wasn't looking for a motorcycle.

    “My relationship with them now? I'd say cordial. I'll always be a Charger. I can't be anything else but a Charger. I root for them.”

    They never even retired his number. Maybe Central State will.
  2. Buck Melanoma

    Buck Melanoma Guest

    Too bad he didn't pass on some of his brains to K2. :lol:
  3. SDChargers1982

    SDChargers1982 Well-Known Member

    Mar 4, 2009
    Too bad The Chargers didn't retired his number

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