A one-time superagent—whose exploits informed the film Jerry Maguire— rehearses his rise, fall and struggles to recover.
Once upon a time, Steinberg (Winning with Integrity: Getting What You're Worth Without Selling Your Soul, 1998) and his agency represented some of the most stellar names in the NFL sky—quarterbacks Warren Moon, Steve Young and Troy Aikman among them. The narrative commences at the 2006 NFL Hall of Fame inductions, when Moon and Aikman were inducted. We then swoop back to 1949 and his birth, boyhood in Los Angeles and the news that his IQ ranks with Einstein’s. (Humility is not a hallmark of Steinberg’s prose—though it does appear near the end.) We follow him to Berkeley (where he continued through law school) and his decision to become a sports agent due to his friendship with quarterback Steve Bartkowski. He negotiated a good deal for his friend, and off he went on his rocket ride to celebrity. It wasn’t long before he was wheeling and dealing and negotiating multimillion-dollar deals for his clients, living high in the hills above the Bay, schmoozing with celebrities of all sorts. Steinberg says he sought character in his clients—and, notably, admirably, urged them to contribute in various ways to charities. He alludes several times to some nastiness in his profession—jealousy, racism (especially the NFL’s dilatory ways vis-à-vis black quarterbacks) and self-absorbed athletes (not entirely their faults). The narrative suffers from some cheesy “guess-what’s-gonna-happen-next?” sentences at the ends of many chapters and from the author’s failure to explore more thoroughly and reflectively his personal weaknesses—alcohol being the principal one. Yes, we read a little about his depressions and his rehab experiences but all in a breezy, “that’s-all-behind-me-now” fashion.
NFL crazies will eat this like snack food; more serious readers will shun the empty calories.