Ann Arbor News
By Brian Mulherin

Doc. Ping, a former Ypsilanti resident is an agent who works hard to help players get a foot in the door.

Their names aren’t the ones that ESPN’s Mel Kiper Jr. throws around in the weeks before the NFL draft. They are the sleepiest of sleepers, but they have the desire to play on Sundays.

The man they call to get them there is "Doc."

Dr. Da-I Ping is an agent. His players don’t necessarily want to be shown the money, just the way to the field – NFL, CFL or Arena.

They just want to play football.

Ping was released from the Marine Corps in 1969 and settled in Ypsilanti. It was there that he met the youngster who would become his most successful client to date.

Rodney Holman came out for the Little League team Ping was managing, the Angels of Ypsilanti’s American League. Their relationship grew and eventually a high school All-American tight end came to Ping for advice on his choice of a college.

"I told him that if he went to Michigan they’d make him a blocker, because those were the days of Woody Hayes and Bo Schembechler," Ping said. "I told him he should go to a southern school."

Four years later the All-American tight end from Tulane was drafted in the third round by the Cincinnati Bengals. With Holman’s career, Ping’s professional sports agency was founded.

Ping moved from Ypsilanti to Saline in 1984. His home near Brookside Golf Course was the site for his annual NFL draft gathering on Sunday.

As ESPN2 signed off from Madison Square Garden, around 5:20 p.m., Craig Como of the Miami Dolphins knocked on Pings door. James Dye of Brigham Young was signed as kick returner by 6 p.m.

The Detroit Lions placed several calls to Ping’s home on Sunday. Minnesota defensive end Jerome Davis and Saginaw Valley receiver Chuck Davis joined running back Eric Lynch as Lions and Ping clients before the end of the day.

Ping also placed receiver Shawn Turner of Utah State with the Patriots and Grand Valley tackle Matt Potter with the Colts.

They were among the more than 500 players competing to be among the draft’s 239 picks. When they went undrafted, Ping says, many agencies would have dropped them.

Not Ping.

According to Como, a field representative for the Dolphins, each of the 30 NFL teams takes in about 15 players through free agency each year. Ping said he looks for hard worker’s with strong character and has little trouble placing them.

"When you get kids that work hard, all you want for them is an opportunity to get in there and showcase their talents," Ping said.

To help them reach their dreams, Ping puts his players through an extensive pre-camp conditioning that has earned his gym the name "House of Pain." The workouts use martial arts flexibility training and aerobic resistance training on hydraulic machines to increase endurance.

"It’s intense," said Frank Rocca, a Ping client and a third-round pick of the CFL’s Calgary Stampeders. "I have no doubt that I’ll be physically and mentally ready to go."

Rocca joins Barry Stokes of the Atlanta Falcons and Gurald Lewis of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers as one of many former Eastern Michigan University players under Ping.

Ping assists his players with money management, making sure they have the savings they’ll need after their playing careers.

Jerome Davis met Ping through NFL players and Minnesota alumni Craig Sauer and Matt Reem.

"He has a good relationship with his players," Davis said. "It’s not just an agent-football relationship – he listens to your problems and he tries to be there."