Leigh Steinberg may have been recently sidetracked, but he hasn’t lost sight of his ability to be an agent of change.
Despite a personal spiral and gradual recovery that had his name in the news for all the wrong reasons – other than making one of his athlete/clients one of the richest at their position — the West L.A. native and Newport Beach-based negotiator is in a rebuilding mode, rehabilitating his image, reconnecting with old clients and friends.
The Steinberg Sports and Entertainment group spells out its commitment to keeping true to the lessons taught to Steinberg by his father, a former L.A.’s Hamilton High school teacher and principal, who treasured relationships and stressed finding a way to make a difference in the world.
The difference is now, the 64-year-old Steinberg appears thankful for a new perspective, evident in the pages of his new book, “The Agent: My 40-Year Career Making Deals and Changing the Game,” with Michael Akrush (St. Martins Press, $25.99, 302 pages).
Before a recent appearance at the Mysterious Galaxy bookstore in Redondo Beach, Steinberg explained the motivations for the release of his new book, and even how it might even be the stuff for a movie script. Except this time, there’d be far more depth than how people still associate him with the inspiration for the Tom Cruise character in “Jerry Maguire,” which came out some 18 years ago.
Q: Is there a purpose or goal for coming out with your life story – to date – that isn’t obvious based on your recent struggles with alcoholism, bankruptcy, and other personal matters? Is there a cathartic nature to it? Was there any cautionary tale you wanted to tell?
A: I’ve loved everything that’s involved in being an agent – getting a 60th-round draft pick signed as much as having half the starting quarterbacks in the NFL at one time. That was all fun.
Personally, I sort of withdrew from the world for a couple of years so I wanted to explain where I had been – dealing with the death of my father, my two boys diagnosed with an incurable eye disease, having a house flood and mold develop so it had to be knocked down, and finally a divorce. I don’t want to relive all that, but it’s what happened. It might help someone. It all led to drinking, I needed help and I’m glad to say that next month, I will be four years clean and sober.
I also wanted to do a template for the thousands of young people who are thinking about sports as a career, and talk about the whole concept of refuting situational ethics – you can’t be nice to cats and dogs and then do heinous things in the work place. You can succeed conventionally, with integrity. Continue reading