For Leigh Steinberg, the bottom included a diaper

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The new episode of Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel debuts Tuesday night on HBO (10:00 p.m. ET/PT).  The show includes a closer look at the stunning disintegration of agent Leigh Steinberg’s career, by Armen Keteyian.

Though much focus has been placed on Steinberg’s more recent alcohol-fueled escapades, the problem had been festering for years.  Former client Drew Bledsoe tells Keteyian that Steinberg was drunk at Bledsoe’s wedding, way back in 1996.

“I had a handful of friends coming to me at our reception say, ‘Who’s that guy?’  I was, like, ‘Oh, that’s my super-agent.  That’s the biggest agent in the sports world.’  And they’re, like, ‘Wow, he’s the drunkest guy at the party,’” Bledsoe said.

A few years later, Bledsoe had enough.  “I went to [former Steinberg partner] David Dunn,” Bledsoe said.  “I said, ‘Hey you can either leave and start your own firm and I’ll go with you or I’m just going to walk and go someplace else because, you know, this guy can’t be my agent anymore.’  At some point, this thing’s going to end badly for Leigh, as what it came to.  And when it went down, when it ended badly, I didn’t want to be on that ship with him.”

The lawsuit filed by Steinberg against Dunn, and the ensuing trial, continued the slow sink.  “You were depicted as boorish, unstable, abusive, out of touch with your clients, a drunk and, and a womanizer,” Keteyian says, regarding the testimony that came out.  “I mean, am I missing anything there that they said about you?”

“I also killed Christ,” Steinberg says.  He later explains that the jury “didn’t believe half” of the allegations, which some could interpret as implying that they still believed a pretty large chunk of it.

Steinberg eventually won a big judgment against Dunn, but it was reversed on appeal.  In 2004, Steinberg landed Ben Roethlisberger, and in early 2006 clients Troy Aikman and Warren Moon made it to the Hall of Fame.  (Steinberg introduced Moon at the enshrinement ceremony.)  Still, Steinberg was fired in April 2006 by incoming draft picks Matt Leinart and Winston Justice, and the end of Steinberg’s marriage that same year fueled the decline.

The low point came in 2007.  “I had started drinking in the day, so I went for a walk,” Steinberg says.  “The problem is, is that my alcohol level got too high and I was sort of hanging out on a hill, sitting in a vacant lot, you know, just singing away and making noise.  And, I ended up in Hoag Hospital in a diaper, not knowing where I was.   That’s pretty close to, to bottom as I could ever get.”

Now sober for two years, Steinberg is trying to put his life back together, even after recently filing for bankruptcy.  “If my story is a cautionary note to anyone out there who’s struggling with any kind of substance abuse, there is help,” Steinberg said.  “It is possible, but you need to put everything else in your life aside and focus on it.  So, in an unwanted way, I hopefully still can do some good to ease the pain of other people.”

Here’s hoping that Steinberg’s pain has ended, and that he’ll be able to fashion a second act to his career that inspires others who also are trying to turn their lives around.

17 responses to “For Leigh Steinberg, the bottom included a diaper

  1. Sounds like a jerk, all he did was drink too much and lose all of his money. Could happen to anyone with a drinking problem, sucks for him. But I don’t really care to be truthful.

  2. he sounds like a wussy. thats not a bottom that’s a light tuesday afternoon. call me when you wake up in mexico with bundles of heroin being pulled out of your ass by a donkey holding a magnifying glasses who refuses to give you bus fair to back to town, so you can have a drink to take that edge off.

  3. This is my Ben hater side so I apologize in advance: anyone surprised a boor selected a fellow boor as an agent?

  4. I hope Steinberg can keep up his sobriety-I also read that he lost his license to be an agent, so not sure how he will make a living. He could get work speaking to other addicts-disgraced former NBA referee Tim Donaghy, a recovering gambling addict, makes money that way.

    A substance abuser must WANT to get sober-no matter how many times his family and friends take him to rehab or the hospital, if the addict does not really want to get well, they won’t. You cannot save someone from themselves. I am a believer in giving someone who is working to help themselves a hand up, but I won’t bail out someone who won’t make any effort.

  5. “So, in an unwanted way, I hopefully still can do some good to ease the pain of other people.”

    yeah like getting a 2nd chance as a D-bag agent does any good for anyone…?

  6. Interesting….

    Leigh Steinberg ended up in a diaper, and Drew Rosenhaus is comprised of what is usually found in one.

  7. “For Leigh Steinberg, the bottom included a diaper”


    Was the diaper the same kind Roethlisberger uses?

  8. He’s evidence enough of the media’s hypocrisy in villifying those “overpaid” players by overexposing every problem they have while they turned a blind eye to this guy’s disintegration along with other high horse media friends and figures personal issues like Jay Mariotti’s domestic violence or Jim Lampley’s woman beating escapades.

    If you’re going to be overly critical of those big, bad players for every indiscretion that they have, don’t be a hypocrite and let your media buddies skate “until all the facts come out” and other such nonsense.

    Write up on them with the same viciousness and moral authority, it’s only fair.

    I mean, when this guy would fill in for Jim Rome a million years ago when I would listen to him, he barely could get coherent thoughts out, which made me wonder back then was he beholden to the sauce as his drinking escapades were well known that far back.

    However, never a mention of the biggest agent in the football world being caught in as many compromising positions with drinking involved as he’s had over the years.

  9. I knew this guy years ago when he was a student at Cal and used to frequent (and I mean frequent) a bar in the Montclair district of Oakland. I could never figure out how a guy could be so drunk until the wee hours and go to class the next day. Years later I ran into him (or he ran into me-literally) at Pat O”Brien’s in New Orlean during Superbowl week. They had to actually carry him out of the joint. Sad and predictable. Hope he recovers.

  10. Cue the agent jokes. I’m not a hater. Agents provide a valuable service to people with talent who are not versed in contract law.

    The good ones, by nature of the business, can come off like bleep holes. There’s no such thing as a good, nice-guy, agent.

  11. I wonder how many people that seem to pass judgement on others, have been addicts, are addicts, or know someone close to them that are addicts. Its a more serious issue than some of you seem to realize. In theory, yes, people that become addicts “do it to themselves”, but beleive me, its not a choice sometimes and it is a sickness and disease. I know you’d like to think its like a light switch that you can turn on and off, but it’s hard. I wouldnt wish it on my worst enemy, and I truly hope that Steinberg and anyone with this problem seeks and gets help. God speed Mr. Steinberg….

  12. I think that it is courageous Tj admit a problem. To many players today get themselves in trouble and have no regard for their professional status and their celebrity status. Our children watch football an Hearst about all the stuff these players get involved in and it does have an effect on them. They look at them as heroa and when they get in trouble they don’t have anyone to lik up to and admire anymore. I’m not saying our kids wee admiring steinberg but he was considers one if the biggest at one time and a kid who wants to do the same job as him may have been watching his career. So maybe their watching this now and can see that there is no shame in getting help for a problem and become a positive influence

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