The sports agent who inspired the movie “Jerry Maguire” has filed for bankruptcy, chronicling a slow descent into financial turmoil fueled by alcohol and divorce. Leigh Steinberg may no longer be a poster boy for the movie’s catchphrase “show me the money,” but he is now working to reconstruct his life, starting with filing for bankruptcy.
The Chapter 7 petition lists debts exceeding $3 million for a man credited with negotiating more than $2 billion worth of sports contracts, including some of the NFL’s biggest stars. His debts include New Jersey taxes said to be owed to the Mercer County tax collector.
In an interview, Steinberg detailed his financial and personal problems that led him to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection. His difficulties are said to have been exacerbated by a $300,000 loan, which one of his employees improperly requested from one of the firm’s clients in 2003. Such loans are barred by NFL Players Association (NFLPA) rules, and it led to Steinberg’s decertification by the NFLPA. By 2006, the principal and interest on the loan had grown to $450,000, and the player initiated a lawsuit to recover the debt.
While Steinberg has tried to resolve the difficulties spawned by the lawsuit in hopes of regaining his NFLPA certification, the difficulty has left him without meaningful employment. Those problems were also connected to the break-up of his marriage and alcohol abuse. While frankly acknowledging that some of the problems were of his own creation, Steinberg now hopes his Chapter 7 filing will help him regain his personal and financial footings. Steinberg has been sober for almost two years as he fights to rebuild his life, a challenge that many New Jersey residents may appreciate and support.
Source: Orange County Register, “Steinberg recounts ‘the wreckage I’ve created’,” Scott M. Reid, Jan. 12, 2012