Leigh Steinberg Sports Agent
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If I was to walk up to anyone on the street and ask them about sports agent Leigh Steinberg I would probably get a funny look the vast majority of the time. However asking a random person about the movie Jerry Maguire, or the ‘show me the money’ line used by the film’s star Tom Cruise, I bet that their responses would probably be more receptive and understanding.
Recently Leigh Steinberg, who was the inspiration if you will behind the movie, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.
Steingerg’s client portfolio list held such sports stars as NFL quarterbacks Troy Aikman, Jeff George, Warren Moon, Ben Roethlisberger and Steve Young. He also represented other big names from the NFL like Howie Long, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas and Ricky Williams. Some of these men now have representation in the National Football League Hall of Fame
Steinberg was one of the professional sports worlds’ “Super Agents”. It has been estimated that he negotiated approximately two billion, yes with a B, dollars worth of professional contracts over his agent career. Modern day fans may not recognize Steinberg’s name but they would probably recall the name of another super agent, Scott Boras. These agents represent numerous clients, across many professional leagues, and possess a great deal of power and clout during contract negotiations.
So what really happened to Leigh Steinberg? How did he manage to fall so far in such a short period of time? Ironically his demise had nothing to do with what made him a successful professional agent, but an addiction that many struggle with everyday.
It can be ironic how so many who are viewed as successful can lose it with a few poor decisions or an addiction of some kind.
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Steinberg started to seek refuge in bottles of alcohol, usually vodka. His problems continued to mount with a very difficult divorce from his wife in 2008 which probably didn’t help his abuse of alcohol. Two arrests for DUI occurred as well, once in 1997 and again in 2007; an additional arrest was made for public intoxication in 2008.
Fortunately he realized the dangerous path that he was taking with his alcoholism and he looked for treatment from an alcohol rehab center. Problem was he had already traveled too far to just stop and turn around. Those mounting problems are what led him to his recent filing for bankruptcy.
While he was in rehab, focusing on getting himself better and sober, he didn’t keep good tabs on his debts. Steinberg was recently quoted as saying “I just lost track while I was in rehab”.
I guess we can’t blame him for forgetting to pay some bills. He was struggling with an addiction that plagues way too many people in our society. Alcoholism or any other type of substance abuse won't discriminate based on your race, religion, sex or financial standings. Alcohol is usually available to purchase anywhere but, for some people, it can be just as addicting as prescription medication or illegal drugs.
Back in 2002 Steinberg’s former business partner David Dunn left their joint agency Steinberg, Moorad & Dunn otherwise knows as SMD. Dunn’s departure probably created a little bit of a rift between the two men but when Dunn took numerous NFL clients with him, to his newly created agency Athletes First, tempers flared. Thankfully settlements were made and everyone went their own way; unfortunately the damage was done to Steinberg and he started to look for ways to calm his nerves.
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Is Leigh Steinberg finished in the agent world? No. I am happy to report that he has stated that he has been sober since 2010. Here’s hoping that he continues that sobriety and is able to re-establish himself in the sports agency world.
Unfortunately he also has a long and difficult journey ahead of him to get back to where he once was. The good news is that professional sports is almost the perfect place for him to be while he fights back from his addiction
There are so many athletes who are given a second chance because of their physical talents on a field and their mistakes could viewed as way worse than a drinking problem. I'm not trying to diminish the severity of alcoholism but, minus causing others harm if you cause an accident while driving impaired, drinking in excess probably hurts you the most. His problems didn't cause physical injuries to someone else like domestic violence might have.
Hopefully he will be able to capitalize on the kind of second chance opportunities that his profession is so well known for.
© 2012 David