Steinberg ‘Hamstrung’

Leigh Steinberg, the famed sports agent who inspired the movie “Jerry Maguire” and filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection Jan. 11, recently took responsibility for debts of several million dollars, saying he lost track of his concerns while in rehab.

But the bankruptcy filing may be the least of the agent’s concerns at this point. Steinberg also explained in a statement that he’s been edged out of the agency business, and the troubles apparently all began when one of his employees stole from an NFL client in 2003.

“One of my employees admitted that – without my knowledge – he had taken a $300,000 loan from one of our NFL clients,” Steinberg said. “It was exactly the kind of transaction that I had specifically forbidden, and it violated NFL Players Association regulations. The NFL player understandably fired me, then went to a rival agency. … 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.”

Steinberg claims that in the time since the incident, he made several offers to repay “far more than the original $300,000,” but the player’s representatives insisted on collecting the money without informing the NFLPA the matter was settled.

That means Steinberg is ineligible to be recertified by the association.

“If I cannot be recertified, I cannot work in the field that I have been trained in, which is to the benefit of this rival agent,” he said. “Keeping me out of business seems to be a priority above collecting the debt, and although substantial payments have been made, the demand is now four times the original amount. My attempts to rebuild my life have been hamstrung.”