Diamond in the Rough
Youâ€™ll notice that most, if not all, sports agents tout their ability to spot a dark horse, a â€œdiamond in the rough,â€ an imminent star who, for whatever reason, is currently flying under the collective radar. For lesser known firms and agents, finding such a player could be the essential ingredient in determining whether or not they stick around and survive in the ever-evolving, ultra-competitive business of sports management and marketing. Sacramento Bee writer Matthew Burrows wrote an interesting short piece to this effect, prior to last weekend’s NFL draft, about Sacramento native Donald Yee of Yee & Dubin Sports, LLC in Los Angeles.
Burrows wrote that Yee, now 46, prides himself on being able to spot a â€œcombination of talent, brains and–what is becoming an increasingly rare attribute– humility.â€ While watching the 2000 Orange Bowl, for example, Yee was struck by a player named Tom Brady, a then awkwardly tall and thin quarterback whose greatest claim to fame was playing alongside the much more heralded Drew Henson. But after Brady led the Wolverines to a double-digit comeback over Alabama, Yee immediately wrote â€œan introductory letterâ€ to Bradyâ€™s father. A few weeks later, Yee signed Brady. And though Yee was unable to convince anyone in the NFL, including Bill Walsh and then-49ers coach Steve Mariucci, of Bradyâ€™s potential, the eventual 6th round pick is already on most pundits’ short lists of greatest quarterbacks ever to play in the NFL.
Yeeâ€™s client list also includes, among others, college stars like the 49ersâ€™ Bryant Young and the New York Jetsâ€™ D’Brickashaw Ferguson, as well as players like Brady who, though unheralded out of college, had continued NFL success (Safety Brian Russell, Tight end Chad Lewis, and Quarterback Ty Detmer). With his latest signee, Oklahoma quarterback Paul Thompson, Yee gets the same gut feeling he did back in 2000 while watching Brady. Thompson ultimately went undrafted last weekend in New York, though he has now signed as a free agent with the New York Giants and will report to their training camp May 11.
–Jason G. Wulterkens