MIAMI — As far as comeback stories go, there are few better than the one being authored by sports agent Leigh Steinberg.
Steinberg had plenty of reasons to smile on Thursday while trekking up and down Radio Row at the Super Bowl.
He was promoting two clients who should be first-round picks in April’s NFL Draft, and could be top-10 picks: quarterback Tua Tagovailoa and receiver Jerry Jeudy, both from the University of Alabama.
Steinberg also was promoting his blue-chip client currently in the NFL: Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes, who will be starting in Sunday’s Super Bowl and is on the verge of becoming the highest-paid player in the NFL, perhaps at $40 million per season.
And Steinberg was hopeful that two of his former clients, Edgerrin James and John Lynch (also at the Super Bowl as the 49ers’ general manager), would gain induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday. James made the cut, while Lynch did not.
“If you were thinking about the pantheon of agent satisfaction, one thing would be to have a quarterback in the Super Bowl,” Steinberg said. “Another thing would be to have a top draft pick. And the third thing is players in the Hall of Fame, and I’ve got Edgerrin James and John Lynch up for it this weekend. So, things are rosy.”
No one on the planet understands the peaks and valleys of being a sports agent more than Steinberg, who turns 71 in March. There were plenty of good times back in the day. Steinberg has represented the No. 1 NFL Draft pick eight times. He negotiated massive deals for stars such as Troy Aikman and Steve Young. And he was the inspiration behind the main character in the 1996 hit movie “Jerry Maguire.”
And Steinberg has had plenty of low moments: alcoholism, divorce, bankruptcy, litigation, driving under the influence, all of which derailed his career in the early 2000s.
But Steinberg is back, with a roster of about 23 clients and two of the hottest names in Mahomes and Tagovailoa. He hosted his 33rd annual Super Bowl party Saturday afternoon. And he has gotten his alcoholism under control.
“Obviously I struggled with alcohol, but next month I will be 10 years continuous sobriety,” he said. “And life is wonderful.”