Leigh Steinberg, Onetime Super Sports Agent Hassled by the Irvine Co., Declares Bankruptcy
The 62-year-old, who was touted as an inspiration for the titular character in the Tom Cruise flick Jerry Maguire, filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection and fired off an email to friends where he admits something that's circulated in Newport Beach social circles for years: he's an alcoholic.
"I have struggled with alcohol for a number of years," Steinberg writes. "In the past five or six years I began to check out episodically for short periods. My judgment and oversight of my affairs was not consistent and at times impaired. I am responsible for my own addiction--no one forced me to drink--and in revealing my struggle with alcoholism, I am in no way justifying or excusing my circumstance. But I discuss it to provide context as well as understanding and inspiration to those who also battle addictive behavior."
Throughout the email, Steinberg denies the characterization of him fostered by the Irvine Co. and media that he has been in hiding to avoid repaying his massive debt, which includes a $1.4 million judgment on back rent for office space. He notes he advances his public appearances through various social media platforms, and the only time he was missing was during his initial stay in the Sober Living program. Since becoming sober, he maintains, he has set about putting his business affairs back in order with the goal of rebuilding his sports and entertainment management agency so he can meet his obligations.
The lawyer's past clients have included Troy Aikman, Howie Long, Ben Roethlisberger, Oscar de la Hoya and Chad Morton, who wound up taking Steinberg to court over an unpaid loans. In court documents that led to a bench warrant being issued for Steinberg last month, the Irvine Co. listed $900,000 the agent had owed to his former client Morton, a running back and return specialist for USC and the New York Giants. But the amount was actually $336,000, and Steinberg repeats in his email something he said at the time of the 2003 judgment against him: he's repeatedly offered to repay Morton more than the original loans, which Steinberg claims were made without his knowledge to an "employee," David Kim.
"It was exactly the kind of transaction that I had specifically forbidden, and it violated NFL Players Association regulations," Steinberg writes in Wednesday's email. "The NFL player understandably fired me, then went to a rival agency. As a matter of background, you should know that this company is run by an agent who used to work at our firm. We filed a lawsuit to challenge the way this agent had left our firm, and we won. Two attorneys on the losing side are involved in the current case concerning my debt."
Through the bankruptcy proceedings, Steinberg can hopefully achieve something that has eluded him for the past several years: control over his life.
"I have attempted to make amends for the damage that my drinking caused to others," he concludes. "I believe I have many productive years ahead and hope through this process that once again I will be able to make a positive impact on the lives of athletes and the world."
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Steinberg's complete email follows . . .