Leigh Steinberg

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Leigh Steinberg
Leigh Steinberg speaking at Berkeley.png
Steinberg speaking at UC Berkeley
Leigh William Steinberg

(1949-03-27) March 27, 1949 (age 70)
Alma materUniversity of California, Berkeley (B.A., J.D)
OccupationSports agent, Lawyer
Years active1974-present
Known forSports agent, Jerry Maguire, philanthropy, advocacy

Leigh William Steinberg (born March 27, 1949) is an American sports agent. During his 41-year career, Steinberg has represented over 300 professional athletes in football, baseball, basketball, boxing, and Olympic sports. He has represented the No. 1 overall pick in the NFL draft a record eight times.[1] Steinberg is often credited as the real-life inspiration of the sports agent from Cameron Crowe's film Jerry Maguire in 1996.[2]


Steinberg was born and raised in Los Angeles by his parents, a teacher and a librarian, who pushed public service along with ambition.[3] He attended Hamilton High School, and was elected student body president and voted most likely to succeed.[4] He attended the University of California Los Angeles, for one year (1966–67) before transferring to the University of California, Berkeley. Upon his arrival at Berkeley, Steinberg became a member of the Pi Lambda Phi fraternity.[5] Steinberg eventually formed his own student government political party, called Unity. His moderate politics at the protest-prone Berkeley at the height of the Vietnam War drew such a following that he was elected President of the Associated Students of the University of California, the university's student government.[6][7] He subsequently resigned from his post as a result of a cheating scandal.[8] He earned a B.A. in political science in 1970 and a J.D. in 1973 from UC Berkeley.

At UC Berkeley, Steinberg was Steve Wozniak's Resident Advisor.


For many years Steinberg and Jeff Moorad had a sports agency partnership (Steinberg, Moorad & Dunn or "SMD"). They sold that firm in October 1999 to Assante Sports Management Group, a Canadian financial-management firm, for a reported $120 million.[9] Assante acquired several other sports agencies. In February 2002, David Dunn left SMD to open Athletes First, taking about 50 NFL players with him and opening offices about a mile from Steinberg's in Newport Beach, Calif. Extensive litigation ensued involving Dunn and Assante.[10]

Steinberg has successfully negotiated over $3 billion in contracts for players including Troy Aikman, Steve Young, and Ryan Leaf.[11] He has represented the No. 1 pick overall in the NFL draft a record eight times,[1] in addition to representing over 60 other first round draft picks in the NFL.


Steinberg's clients have donated over $600 million to various charities around the world.[12]

He has actively been involved with the Human Relations Commission, Children Now, Children's Miracle Network, Coro Fellows Program, and the Starlight Foundation. He founded and underwrites the Steinberg Leadership Institute, a nationwide program run by the Anti-Defamation League preparing students to fight racism and inequality throughout the world. He has endowed scholarships at his high school, donated time and resources to organizations such as Special Olympics, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation, and Junior Achievement. He has also endowed a classroom at Boalt Hall at the University of California at Berkeley. Steinberg's community activism has drawn praise from the political world. He has received accommodations from Congress, State Senate, State Legislature, The Los Angeles City Council, Orange County Board of Supervisors, President Reagan, President Bush, and President Clinton.[1]


Steinberg has received screen credit as a Technical Consultant on the following feature films: Jerry Maguire, starring Tom Cruise; Oliver Stone's Any Given Sunday; and For the Love of the Game, starring Kevin Costner. He has also worked as a consultant for the HBO original series Arli$$ and served as the title sponsor of the annual Newport Beach Film Festival.[1]

Steinberg made an appearance in the film Jerry Maguire,[13] and is often credited as the real life inspiration of the sports agents from that film.

He has developed original television and film content for Fox Television, Warner Brothers Studios, ABC Entertainment, and HBO. He has been at the forefront of the Internet revolution, creating and building sports websites, strategically aligning his firm with ESPN's Sportzone.com and developing online marketing courseware for professionals and students alike. He has lent his marketing expertise to the video game software business and served as a member of the Board of Directors for two software manufacturers.[1]

Media appearances and book writing[edit]

He has been featured on national television programs such as 60 Minutes, Larry King Live, The Today Show, Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel, Frontline, NFL Films, and in magazines such as Business Week, Sports Illustrated, ESPN The Magazine, People, SUCCESS, Forbes, Playboy, and GQ. Currently, Steinberg contributes a weekly column to Forbes, The Huffington Post, and Daily Pilot, as well as occasionally contributing a guest column to The New York Times and Sporting News.[citation needed]Steinberg is also often a guest on Fox 11 Overtime in the Los Angeles area

Steinberg wrote a best-selling[14] book with Michael D'Orso, Winning with Integrity: Getting What You Want Without Selling Your Soul, published by Three Rivers Press in October 1999.[15] The book provides readers insight on how to improve their life through non-confrontational negotiating.[1] The majority of the proceeds raised on his 1999 book tour were donated to the Junior Achievement Educational Foundation.[citation needed] He has also penned the foreword in Pray Ball! The Spiritual Insights of a Jewish Sports Fan. His book The Agent: My 40-Year Career Making Deals and Changing the Game was published in 2014.

Steinberg was a speaker at the independently organized TED Talk hosted by Chapman University.[16] He spoke about "Making an impact in the world through sports". Steinberg gave key insights into the changes he's brought to the world through sports; one of his strategies was to encourage his clients to give back to the high school community that helped shape them. Steinberg made it a practice not to take any clients who weren't interested in contributing.[16][17]

Other endeavors[edit]

In 1992, Steinberg helped lead a successful campaign to prevent the San Francisco Giants baseball club from relocating to Florida. For his efforts, then San Francisco Mayor Frank Jordan honored him by declaring "Leigh Steinberg Day" in the city of San Francisco soon after.[1]

In 1994, then Oakland Mayor Elihu Harris utilized Steinberg as a consultant in his successful bid to prevent the Oakland Athletics baseball club from relocating to Sacramento or San Jose.[1]

Steinberg also served as co-chairperson of the "Save the Rams" committee in its unsuccessful attempt to keep the franchise from leaving Southern California and was active in pursuits to attract a new football franchise to locate in Los Angeles.[1]

Personal life[edit]

He lives in Southern California and has three children.[citation needed]


Steinberg describes his financial problems as having mounted since 2003, when he became involved with extensive litigation with Dunn and Assante[18] (see above), escalating with his 2008 divorce settlement,[19] and also exacerbated by problems with alcoholism.[18][20] Steinberg was arrested for DUI in 1997[21] and again in 2007,[22] and for public intoxication in 2008,[23] all in Newport Beach, California. In December 2011, it was reported that a bench warrant had been issued against Steinberg after he failed to appear at a scheduled hearing, concerning an unpaid judgement of $1.4 million, by far the largest of several debts he owes;[19] in fact the bench warrant was authorized by a judge but never issued.[18][20] On January 11, 2012 Steinberg filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection.[18][20] In 2012 a party thrown by friends celebrated 2 years of sober living without alcohol for Steinberg.[24]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i Sports Agent Directory
  2. ^ Ask Steinberg,
  3. ^ ESPN Magazine
  4. ^ High School Year Book
  5. ^ Membership Directory, 2010 Pi Lambda Phi Inc.
  6. ^ Cal Yearbook
  7. ^ David Mundstock "Berkeley in the 70s: A History of Progressive Electoral Politics"
  8. ^ Berkeley Leader Quits After Cheating Charge
  9. ^ ESPN The Magazine: "Crash Landing"
  10. ^ New York Times: April 28, 2003 "These Drafts Come and Go, and So Do Agents' Fortunes"
  11. ^ All American Speakers
  12. ^ "Leigh Steinberg - iSB Keynote Speakers and Entertainment". Archived from the original on January 20, 2012. Retrieved 2012-11-12.CS1 maint: BOT: original-url status unknown (link)
  13. ^ IMDb - Leigh Steinberg"
  14. ^ Business Week
  15. ^ Winning Integrity Without Selling
  16. ^ a b TED Talks Key Speaker
  17. ^ TED Talks on YouTube Speaker
  18. ^ a b c d 'Jerry Maguire' Sports Agent Leigh Steinberg Files for Bankruptcy
  19. ^ a b Bench warrant issued for Leigh Steinberg, LA Times, 26 Dec 2011
  20. ^ a b c Sports agent Leigh Steinberg admits alcoholism led to bankruptcy, Chicago Sun-times
  21. ^ http://www.nctimes.com/news/state-and-regional/article_93d2d7c0-1144-5894-879f-85b18165401c.html, State and Regional
  22. ^ Me Steinberg
  23. ^ Sports agent Steinberg facing charges of being drunk in public
  24. ^ OC Register

External links[edit]