By Louis Chan
AsAmNews National Correspondent
I must have had my head buried in the sand.
I had no idea Tom Brady’s agent was Chinese American until I heard an interview with him on
ESPN’s Fresh Off the Bench podcast with sportscasters Cary Chow, Ohm Youngmisuk and Prim Siripipat.
Don Yee also represents current New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, among others.
Yee was thrust in the news during the Deflategate scandal after the 2015 AFC Championship game when his prized client was accused of deflating footballs so he could have a better grip in the cold weather.
“Certainly that episode caused me to receive a lot of email messages, voicemail messages,” said Yee. “You can characterize them as nasty. An objective person would say they were not pleasant.”
Yee has no doubt that some of the comments were racially motivated.
“Clearly there were a number of people who had difficulty with my ethnicity”
Yee has been around professional sports since the mid 70s and is one of few Asian American sports agents. He tries not to dwell on it in a profession dominated by Black athletes and older White agents, but he acknowledges race is something he must confront on a daily basis.
“I’ve had to be mindful of my ethnicity in this business, but after a certain period of time, either you get somewhat desensitized, which is kind of sad. Or you have to develop a certain type of skin, which also is kind of sad. Over the years you learn to expand people’s thinking. “educate people, expand people’s thinking.
“There have been a number of Asian players or hapa players we had an interest in, but it definitely being Asian in a number of those instances worked against me. There are many Asian parents whether they were born or raised in West or East, they have a visual in their mind an authority figure should be White. So there’s that conditioning that creeps in from Hollywood and other media. That’s happened on a number of occasions.”
He sees all these instances as learning experiences for him and those around him. Yee described himself as a “glass half full” type of person.
You can hear him talk about how he snagged Brady as a client, his reaction when Brady dropped in the draft and his interesting Chinese restaurant adventure with Brady on ESPN’s Fresh Off the Bench podcast.
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