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on January 21, 2014
Leigh Steinberg's memoir and second book, "The Agent," details his rise to the pinnacle of the sports agent profession. We read about his life growing up in Los Angeles as the grandson of a well known Hollywood insider who ran Hillcrest Country Club. Leigh starts his memoir in Los Angeles, chronicling his life as a youngster, to his becoming student body president of Berkeley during a revolutionary era in the late 1960's.

In this revealing memoir, Leigh recounts stories burned in his mind that give a glimpse into the dizzying life he has led. At times, it feels a bit like "Forrest Gump," in the sense that Leigh consistently finds himself in the middle of Americana over the course of his life.

The odds of a human being born are akin to winning the lottery. The odds may not be ever in our favor of being born at all. The odds of being the dorm counselor to a future #1 NFL draft pick? Slim. The odds that player will choose you, an amateurish law student with no NFL negotiating experience, to represent them? Astronomical. Yet it happened. Leigh's first client was Cal quarterback Steve Bartkowski, the #1 pick in the 1975 NFL Draft by the Atlanta Falcons. You read that right. Leigh happened to fall into sports representation because he was Bartkowski's RA. At the time, this seemed to be a fluke of epic proportions. We come to learn Leigh had ambitions of being a public defender or a politician. Not a sports agent.

It is truly remarkable to read Leigh's anecdotes about the sports representation field at that time and to see how much has changed in 40 years. There wasn't much of an NFL agent "industry" in 1975. Jameis Winston certainly will not be choosing his dorm counselor to be his agent next year. There are now literally hundreds of established and reputable agents already circling him like vultures. In 1975, there were hardly any.

Now let's talk about the downfall. Leigh went bankrupt a few years ago. How is this possible? When someone squanders millions of dollars, do they even deserve more attention? Should you even read this book? I believe so. This is a cautionary tale we can all learn from. Remember Icarus, who flew too close to the sun and it melted his wings? Or Odysseus, whose pride and arrogance led to a sea of devastation in his wake? Here's a modern day example. While there are certainly revealing moments of joy and excitement, there are equally painful moments too as Leigh recounts his struggle with alcoholism.

We learn from Leigh's dramatic fall how hard it can be to stay atop a profession for 2 decades. Leigh's first book was called "Winning With Integrity." Drew Rosenhaus? That dude's book is called "A Shark Never Sleeps." And in case it isn't clear before reading "The Agent," it will become clear what personality the majority of sports agents have. Here's a hint. Sharks.

Arguably, from the early 80's until 2000, Leigh was the #1 sports agent. Not just in the NFL. That includes the MLB, NBA and NHL. The irony of it all is that Leigh was not toppled by any outside NFL agency. Leigh's greatest threat, like in any great Shakespearean tragedy, came from within his ranks. It was his protégé and former partner. A person whom Leigh once referred to as his best friend. The person who got his start in the business because Leigh hired him. This wound up being the person who committed the ultimate betrayal when he stole the better half of Leigh's clients and formed a new agency. The person: David Dunn. David Dunn? You don't remember him from The Lion King? He was Uncle Scar.

As it turns out, the agency/speakeasy Dunn "founded" still exists. Working alongside his hyenas, the co-founders/conspirators of Dunn's speakeasy, they have stayed out of the spotlight well. Want to find out more? Google David Dunn and Leigh Steinberg and see who the court sided with.

There's a vindictiveness and callousness inherent in agents like Dunn that Leigh thankfully does not possess. However, this lack of a killer instinct proves to be Leigh's Achilles Heel. Leigh demonstrates a naivety that is to his detriment in the agent world, and the sharks end up winning. After Dunn leaves, Leigh becomes a full blown alcoholic, enters rehab, and loses all of his money. His fault. Nobody to blame but himself.

Leigh managed to keep some of his clients after the defection long enough to start Steinberg, Tollner & Moon. Mark Brunell and Ricky Williams among others were clients who stayed loyal. Ben Roethlisberger was the big new client they signed. Ultimately, Leigh's drinking and pension for being a liability because of this drinking caused another rift. In 2006, the Tollners split off and formed their own agency. However, in contrast to Uncle Scar's agency, the Tollners, Chase, and Nima are all class. They told Leigh they were leaving ahead of time. They parted ways honorably and on amicable terms.

By the end of the book, the lesson seems to be that in this life, we have the chance to do good. And we should. And it doesn't matter if nobody else is doing it. And that is what separates Leigh. He's not a corporation. He's just a guy trying to do good. Unfortunately, he has also been his own worst enemy. Aside from that Scar guy.

So where does Leigh go from here? He's now nearly 4 years sober. Impressively, he has a new agency and has another shot to do the right thing by clients. Of course, he's burned many bridges with former friends, business associates, employees, and family members. It will come down to what people are willing to forgive.

What cannot be stolen from him is the resume. The first pick in the draft 8 times. Second pick 7 times. 60 first round draft picks. 7 Hall of Famers. His QB's won 5 different Super Bowls.

More importantly, it's the good that he has done that will ultimately be his true legacy. Homes for the Holidays. Crescent Moon. Forever Young. Derrick Thomas's 3rd and Long. Kicks for Critters. The list goes on. Would any of these charities or foundations been created without Leigh's guidance and emphasis on role modeling as a requirement for his clients?

If Leigh can accomplish all of this with a major drinking problem, I for one am excited to see what he will do now that he's sober.
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VINE VOICEon March 8, 2014
This is a solid book. Leigh Steinberg revolutionized the sports agency business. From the mid 70s with his first client UCal QB Steve Bartkowski who was only slightly younger than Steinberg to the 2000s, Leigh Steinberg was the Go To Guy. Agent who controlled the QB position. This book is very interesting in providing the backstory to his rise to fame, his philosophy on running the agency, his many relationships with athletes and specific stories of player negotiations. He eventually transcended player representation bridging into multimedia and ownership.

But this book is at it's best just recounting how he got in the business, how he grew it and how he negotiated it. I had some dealings with his agency. As a CPA I interviewed to handle the finances for Walter Lewis, an AL QB who signed a million dollar contract with the USFL in 1983. We were selected by Steinberg's partner, Mike Sullivan. I specifically remember a year later when Mike called announcing he was leaving. That period is covered well in this book and needless to say, Steinberg felt mistreated by his former partner. Mike was a real pro I enjoyed meeting but I had no involvement with Leigh.

If you are interested in pro football and the agency business, grab this book and read it! But there is another part of Leigh's story and there have been newspaper articles that go into further detail of his alcoholism which broke Steinberg completely and ruined his reputation with many clients. But as you would expect of a marketing person, that is somewhat glossed over. Yes, it's covered. But relatively quickly and always with an angle to make him the hero. That's my only complaint with this book. Steinberg is a shell of his former self in the agency business but you would never know it form reading this. In some respects I wonder if he wrote this because he needs any money he can get.

Irrespective to my ramblings and guesses, I thoroughly enjoyed this read and with the caveats mentioned can definitely recommend it.
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on March 26, 2014
While there certainly are interesting stories, hardly a few pages go by without the author talking about how great he is. I obviously knew when I bought it that it was going to contain many stories about his successful negotiations. What disappointed me was him constantly either taking credit for people's successes or explaining people's failures resulting from him not being involved. Heck, he even tells a story about his intellect being compared to Einstein's. Everything in this book is "look what I did," or "look who I know." On the Kindle version, almost 5% of the book are photos of him with athletes. Who cares!! I don't want to see pictures of Leigh. While reading it, I actually started to mark the pages where he puts another plug in for himself or talks about how awesome he is. It became quite comical. I actually quit doing that when I reached 50. I would pass on this one.
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on March 11, 2014
I read this book within 2-3 days. I thought it was ok. I liked the in depth stories no one knows about. I think if he added a few more of those I would have enjoyed it better.

I have nothing bad to say about the book and took away a few good things. It made me decide to purchase Leigh's other book "Winning with Integrity".
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on March 9, 2014
As a sports fan, I thought this would be an interesting look at the behind the scenes negotiations. Not true. This book is choppy, bouncing around a lot and the first several chapters were all about Leigh and what he did in college. 20% into the book we start getting to the sport agent aspect. Now it gets good right? Now we find out who are the difficult athletes, who is gracious, which owners are smart. Just find out how the deals get done! That's what I wanted to read. There are no details or stories that we didn't already hear about on tv. Leigh uses several pages to repeat the same message - that he represented men who would give back to the community and be role models. I got it the first time you mentioned it Leigh. I'd like to point out that towards the end of the book - you don't read these same words when he talks about Ricky Waters and Ben Roethlisberger! He never mentioned the lack of role model in the clients he picked! Lastly, I really learned that Leigh thinks highly of himself and all of his accomplishments, which really made me not like him. Every page just become more annoying. Example 1 - Did you know that Leigh had a conversation with Jerry Jones about getting better marketing deals from network tv? It was all Leigh's idea (sarcasm). Did you know that Leigh instructed Cuba Gooding Jr how to act the part and predicted that if he pulled it off he would win an Oscar?? Did you know that Leigh showed Cuba how to throw a football authentically? Did you know that Leigh was already working to bring concussions to the forefront of America as early as 1989? Yep. It's in the book so it must be true. He even spent pages telling us about Kerri Strug during the olympics and hurting her ankle - like all of America didn't see it live on tv!!!!! What is your point? Well one thing I know, Leigh is not an accomplished writer. Next time focus on what is going on around you and the people you are representing instead of focusing on yourself all the time. Try using the words - he, she, him, her, them and we. I'd like to negotiate getting my money back.
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on January 21, 2014
Leigh Steinberg has hob-nobbed with presidents, partied with Super Bowl Champions -- even sat on Marilyn Monroe's lap. My only regret, every time I get a chance to hear him speak ... is that there is never enough time to hear more. Leigh is a storyteller supreme. You won't be disappointed. The real Leigh Steinberg movie would be a whale of a lot better than "Jerry Maguire."

Buy it. Read it. Read it again. Learn from Leigh's experience. It is vast.
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on April 23, 2015
I'm not a rabid sports fan, but I enjoy watching some and some of the back stories are intriguing, so I thought I would enjoy this book, and I did! Its an interesting personal story about Leigh, and learning about how sports and compensation got from "there" to here is amazing.
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on January 27, 2014
The life story of sports agent Leigh Steinberg is fast- compelling- reading... with names he signed up as clients... as recognizable as headlines in the last forty years of sports sections. The look inside of the psyche of young All-American ballplayers... as well as millionaire-billionaire sports executives is almost hypnotic for true fans. The fact that Leigh also uses a never ending supply of "ME"... "ME"... "ME"... tends to get a tad burdensome at times... but as me and my old buddy Dizzy Dean like (d) to say... "It ain't bragging... if you could do it!" But Leigh should also keep in mind what my dear departed Mother used to say... "Rick, don't break your arm patting yourself on the back!"

Meanwhile back to the book. The writing style is in such a relaxed easy to read format... that I stopped about a third of the way through and looked to see who the "co-author" was... and when I saw it was Michael Arkush... I soon realized that I had read two of his other books... "The Fight of the Century: Ali vs. Frazier March 8, 1971"... and... "The Last Season: A Team in Search of Its Soul". So the "co-author" should get a lot of praise for converting this "made" for telling life story... into an enjoyable reading experience.

Leigh's childhood growing up in Los Angeles included loving the Brooklyn then Los Angeles Dodgers... and idolizing Sandy Koufax for his presence as a tremendous role model for all Jewish kids growing up playing and loving baseball... guys like Leigh and I... as I grew up at the same time... in the same place... with the same heroes as the author. Leigh's parents were always extremely supportive of their children and among other posts... his Dad became principal of Fairfax High... which coincidentally the basketball team I was on at North Hollywood High School... played Fairfax a couple of times every summer. His Father instilled in Leigh the firm wholehearted belief that he should always do things to improve the plight of other people... and that became the heart of his offerings / demands... with every potential client he ever attempted to sign... to give back part of the millions he negotiated for them in some charitable fashion.

Perhaps the best... most delightful parts of this book are in the short nuanced... insiders look... at not only the individual differences of the star draft choices... but of the different idiosyncratic character traits of the general managers and owners who sat on the other side of the desk during these financial mano-y-mano negotiations. One of Leigh's cardinal rules... was to try and never have his client or their families sit in on the direct bitter give and take negotiations until an agreement was made. The reason for this is obvious... the team owners and general managers will rip and denigrate... the potential signees... in an attempt to get the contract price down. An agent like Steinberg understands this... and even after warning players and parents alike... to stay out of the "ring" during these brutally fought championship fights... a few parents and sons refuse to listen... and these lead to near disasters... though these disasters... are the funniest and most interesting parts of the book for the reader. An example is when Jeb Blount... a University of Tulsa quarterback was drafted by the Oakland Raiders... his Father Peppy not only had played football at The University of Texas... but was elected to the House of Representatives... and later became a county judge. Peppy demanded to be present at the negotiations... and with all of Leigh's selling techniques... he could not sell Peppy from staying away. Well Al LoCasale the Raiders representative did as predicted... and started attacking Jeb's credentials to ever make it in the pro's... to the point where Peppy (the Dad) said: "Oh yea Al"... "Peppy, who was maybe 6'6" and 275 pounds, suddenly reached across the table and tried to strangle LoCasale, who was 5'5". I (Leigh) used every ounce of strength I could muster to squeeze in between them, it was barely enough."

Then there was the time quarterback draftee Jack Trudeau had to be restrained from punching Indianapolis Colt executive Bob Irsay in response to Irsay's comment: "You will never take us to the Super Bowl. You don't have the balls to take me anywhere. You're nothing but a mediocre quarterback." And even mild-mannered-Mormon-Steve Young had to be escorted out by security along with Leigh during a negotiation with Bill Oldenburg the owner of the Los Angeles Express.

There are two small things that I as an old-school-fanatical fan would like to point out... that in no way takes away from this delightful read... one is in telling one of his stories regarding Young and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers... he says several of the players advised Bo Jackson against signing with the team... and he intimates that that's why Bo instead signed with the Kansas City Royals baseball team. Well... I disagree with that assumption because I heard Bo Jackson himself say he wouldn't sign with Tampa Bay because when the ownership flew him in for a visit while he was still at Auburn... that they had cleared it with the NCAA and it was strictly kosher. It turns out it wasn't... and they hadn't cleared it... so Bo lost out on some of his beloved college baseball eligibility... and that's what he never forgot or forgave Tampa Bay for.

The second thing that kind of sticks in my craw... is when Leigh states he wasn't motivated by $$MONEY$$. Come on now... what do you do for a living???

But those two things are simply things I'm mentioning like a sport fan talking while sharing a beer or two with a friend. This book is five stars and will be enjoyed by any true sports fan.
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on November 2, 2015
Very insightful book and story. If you're at all interested in the Sports Industry you would enjoy the story of Leigh Steinberg. I had the pleasure to attend his traveling seminar program, "The Agent Academy" and his career is beyond comparison. I learned a lot from him and this book can give you a glimpse into the Sports Agency industry. Its fascinating to read about Leigh's rise to the top and how he truly reinvented the sports agent industry. The Hardcover version is great, it makes a cool addition to my bookshelf as well.
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on June 15, 2014
I was hoping for some interesting stories about the behind the scenes action in pro sports but this fell short. Instead its a rather arrogant recount of a man who portends to have great humility yet writes on an on about how he single handedly let the civil rights movement, only is interested in representing athletes so they can give to charity, and how he never really cared about being the celebrity he became. He has no doubt led a unique life but this seemed slanted rather than a fully honest account he claims to give and missed the point of why people would read the book- not because they care so much about the agent but because they want to learn interesting , behind the scenes things about their favorite athletes.
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