Leigh Steinberg - Sports Agent and Humanitarian?

Mar 8, 2001 at 12:00 AM


Leigh Steinberg, CEO and Chairman of Steinberg Moorad & Dunn, a law firm representing more than 150 high-profile professional athletes, is probably the most famous of all the sports agents. He is the agent that encouraged former San Francisco Quarterback, Steve Young, to retire after a series of concussions. Mr. Steinberg is the person, whom Tom Cruise's character in the movie Jerry Maguire was based on. After watching that movie many people were left wondering if there is actually more to a sports agent than just getting team owners to pay their client as much money as possible. Although Mr. Steinberg does represent some of highest paid professional athletes, he does have some policies that make him significantly different than other agents.

Leigh Steinberg has a belief that professional athletes should make a positive contribution to Society. He helps to make sure of this by building clauses into the contracts of the athletes that he represents, requiring them to give back to their hometowns, high schools, universities or to national charities. His clients have donated in excess of 60 million dollars to various charities and scholarships over the years. These clauses not only force the players to make a positive contribution to Society, but also make them realize that they are role models for the young children that watch them play each week.

Steinberg, himself, believes in practicing what he preaches by representing and participating in numerous charitable activities. He is involved with the Human Relations Commission, Children Now, Children’s Miracle Network, CORO fellow program and the Starlight Foundation. He founded and underwrites the Steinberg Leadership Institute, a nationwide program run by the Anti-Defamation League, which prepares students to fight racism and inequality throughout the world. He has endowed scholarships at his high school, Hamilton High in Los Angeles, endowed a classroom at University of California, Berkeley and donates his time to the Special Olympics, Juvenile Diabetes Foundation and Junior Achievement. It is activities like these that have made him one of the more respected men in all of sports.

Relating to the NFL, Mr. Steinberg has made a large contribution, by holding “Concussion Seminars”, which bring together the most qualified people in football and medicine to discuss strategies on how to make the game safer. Steve Young, one of his most respected clients and good friend, was forced into retirement after suffering form the effects of several concussions. His present client, Troy Aikman, is contemplating retirement after suffering from several concussions as well. Among his other clients, in the NFL, are Warren Moon, Drew Bledsoe, Mark Brunell, Ryan Leaf, Tony Gonzalez and Corey Dillon.

Through his extensive knowledge and experience, Mr. Steinberg is often consulted by the entertainment industry for major projects. He has developed original television and film content for Warner Brothers Studios, ABC Entertainment and HBO. He has aligned his company with ESPN’s Sportszone to create and build websites on the Internet. He is sometimes called upon to be an actor or consultant as in Kevin Costner’s “For Love Of The Game”, Tom Cruise’s “Jerry Maguire”, Oliver Stone’s “Any Given Sunday” and the HBO original Arli$$. These have become among the largest money making sports films ever. He has been featured on television shows such as 60 Minutes, Larry King Live and The Today Show and in magazines like Business Week, Sports Illustrated, People, Inside Sports, Success, Forbes, Playboy and GQ. The interest in Leigh Steinberg and his efforts in making professional athletes into positive role models for today's children continue to grow immensely each year.

Steinberg's latest contribution to Society is his book entitled “Winning With Integrity”, which was written with the intention of “providing people with the insight on how to improve their lives through non-confrontational negotiating.” Following are some excerpts from his book, which will show how people can put his ideas to practical use in their own lives.

“Effective negotiation is about exhaustive preparation, utter clarity, heartfelt communication, and a sincere, demonstrated desire to fully understand not just your own needs but the needs of the other part”

“There are moments in a negotiation where a window of opportunity arises, where a concession is offered by each side and the other party is open to agreement. That window can close in a matter of seconds”

“I have no doubt that the depth of satisfaction and fulfillment felt by those whose work is consistent with their values is much greater than that of those whose work defies or is devoid of their values”

It may be hard for any of us to justify how much money professional athletes make, but at least we can take comfort in the fact that Leigh Steinberg is ensuring that a percentage of that money is being given back to Society; where it belongs. His representation of today's star athletes as well as his participation in so many charitable activities does indeed make him into much more than just another sports agent. He has become a true humanitarian.

This is the time of year when Mr. Steinberg is the busiest, trying to restructure new deals for his clients whose contracts have expired and representing the college players making the transition into the NFL. His name is surely to be mentioned frequently, as teams start to announce their free agent and draft pick signings.
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