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23 of 28 people found the following review helpful
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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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
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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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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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10 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
Over a hundred million Americans are professional sport fans. For a majority of them the NFL is their greatest passion. Understanding how this sport operates from an "insiders" perspective is an amazing story. The author was the NFL agent that the Tom Cruise movie "Jerry Maguire" was based upon. Over his 40 year career Steinberg handled some of the biggest stars in NFL history. Reading this book gives us a window into the world of the NFL that few will ever discover on their own. I was absolutely fascinated as I suspect all readers will be. If you are an NFL fan ... don't miss this one!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 3, 2014
Disappointed. Felt largely was simply self promotion by author. Would not recommend. Author did not explore his personnel struggles as advertised in any meaningful detail.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 18, 2014
The book got a little repetitive. The stories all run together. Steinberg needs to learn to start a sentence with something other the "I"
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
on February 9, 2014
Rating:
4 of 5 stars (very good)

Review:
Leigh Steinberg is a name that is very familiar name to fans of pro football. He could be considered the first “super agent”, representing hundreds of NFL players. In one eight year stretch, he was the agent for the top pick of the NFL draft six times. He built a multi-million dollar business with the agency and was the inspiration behind the movie “Jerry McGuire.” It all came crashing down when Steinberg decided to face his alcoholism. He is now four years clean and sober and wrote this book to reflect on his career and his life.

The book reads like many other biographies, starting with the day he realized what was happening, then it talks about his childhood, his education and how he got started in the business. That story is probably the best part of the entire book. Steinberg’s recollection and accounting of how a recent graduate and former resident advisor to the top pick of the 1975 NFL draft, Steve Bartkowski became the player’s agent is one that will have the reader laughing, smiling and realizing that even a simple connection may pay off down the road.

As Steinberg’s career and reputation grow, so does the book’s tales. They grow bigger and more famous, but the writing style wouldn’t let you think so. Steinberg does stay grounded while writing these, not getting too caught up in the notoriety of being famous. He does take advantage of some of the perks that come with this territory, of course, but not too much because he doesn’t come across as having the fame go to his head.

Where the book started losing some of its luster for me was after he entered rehabilitation programs for his alcoholism. I was actually surprised that there was not more written about this time for him, but his determination to be back in business is admirable. However, this is where I thought the book changed course and came across as preachy. Another change in the direction of the book here is that he talked about hot-button political topics and what he is going to do for them. Admirable, but if I wanted to read about the issue that he addresses, there are better sources for that than a sports book.

This ending did keep the book from a five star rating from me, but it was still a very good book. If you like to read about some of the NFL stars from the 1980’s and 1990’s, Steinberg has plenty of them to share here.

Did I skim?
No.

Pace of the book:
Very good. It was easy to read from start to finish and kept to the chronological order of his life. Unlike some other biographies or memoirs that tend to skip around as the writer remembers facts, this book stayed on the timeline and that made it very easy to read.

Do I recommend?
Yes, for any pro football fan as there are great stories on some of the biggest stars. Also a decent memoir for readers who enjoy reading biographies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
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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