INDIANAPOLIS -- Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn and head coach Matt Patricia have brought many things with them from the New England Patriots -- their scouting system, their key philosophies, and now another New England concept: a character coach for team development.
Dylan Thompson appeared on the team's website Wednesday under the title of "Character Coach/Team Development" -- a position the Patriots also have in their building, filled by Jack Easterby. Easterby is the founder and chairman of the board of The Greatest Champion, an organization that works to build character and help shape influential people for the future, according to the organization's website.
Thompson worked with Easterby at The Greatest Champion after playing college football at South Carolina and professionally for the Rams and 49ers. Last year, he worked at Charleston Southern as the men's basketball director of player development after a recommendation by Easterby to CSU coach Barclay Radebaugh. What Radebaugh said about Thompson when he hired him should give an indication of what type of role he might have with the Lions.
"When the opportunity presented itself to add Dylan to our staff, I jumped at it," Radebaugh said in a release on the Charleston Southern website. "Jack Easterby is a long-time and very close friend of mine, and he recommended Dylan and asked me to spend some time with him. I immediately saw that Dylan would be a terrific benefit to our team.
"We want to provide every opportunity for our players to grow spiritually, emotionally and athletically. We work daily to help our guys learn to be dependable men that will someday leave CSU and be change agents for good in our world. Dylan will immeasurably help us reach these development goals. Our current staff will be a terrific resource for our players to excel in every possible way."
To give an idea of what a character coach does, this USA Today story about Easterby from last month quoted him as describing his role as this: "To help them create healthier relationships, healthier viewpoints, so that they can become the kind of people they want. Doing that would make them more sustainable in just about everything.”
Thompson's role sounds similar to what Galen Duncan did for the Lions when he was with the franchise. Duncan left Detroit last year to become the vice president of Kings Academy and Professional Development for the NBA's Sacramento Kings.