Super agent Leigh Steinberg came to the Sacramento State campus Apr. 16 to talk to a group of Public Relations students and to promote his new book, “The Agent.”
At his peak, Steinberg was the most successful agent in sports. Over his 40-year career, he has made $2 billion for clients such as Steve Young and Troy Aikman, and was the inspiration for the film “Jerry Maguire,” and the HBO original series “Arli$$.”
The book describes his rise to fame as a super agent and his struggles with alcoholism, but also talks about how he set out to change people’s lives.
“Over 120 of the athletes we’ve worked with have established scholarship funds at their high schools,” Steinberg said. “It’s a way for them to go back and retrace their roots.”
Giving back has always been an important part of Steinberg’s business. Over the course of his career, he has raised over $600 million for charities and has focused on athletes giving back to their communities.
“Eric Karros, Drew Bledsoe and a number of former professional athletes have endowed a full scholarship fund at their respective universities,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg lectured to students about the keys to being successful, not only in public relations, but in any profession.
“When I meet young people who want to work for me, I tell them that only the best, brightest and hardest working individuals make it,” Steinberg said. “You have to be spectacular in this profession.”
He also spoke about his experiences. In addition to being one of the top sports agents in the world who has represented the biggest and brightest sports stars, Steinberg also worked with several movie stars to prepare them for leading roles in sports movies.
“I worked with Al Pacino for ‘Any Given Sunday,’” Steinberg said. “He knew a lot about boxing, but not much about football.”
The event was coordinated by the Public Relations Student Society of America on campus in conjunction with public relations professor Timothy Howard. The effort, lead by communications major Victor Escutia was able to get Steinberg on campus on short notice.
“I talked to my brother Diego who interns for Leigh and asked if he was interested in speaking on our campus,” Escutia said. “Two weeks later, he was here and talking to our students.”
PRSSA is a national public relations organization based out of New York City. The Sac State chapter was founded by Howard in 2006 and it’s main focus is developing students who are interested in pursuing careers in public relations and communications.
“Leigh is one of the most notable speakers we’ve had come speak to our program,” Howard said. “Public relations is one-third of his business, so he really was able to connect with our students.”
Steinberg’s new company, Steinberg Sports and Entertainment, has shifted its focus from representing the most notable sports figures, to marketing, draft preparation, and preparing athletes for life after sports.
“I represented 60 first round picks in football at one point,” Steinberg said. “At this stage it’s about representing fewer key people that I can help. We have a broader outlook.”
One thing his company has continued is lasting bonds. SSE is committed to creating life-long friendships, a point he emphasized to the students during his book-tour stop.
“Personality-wise, he became a big brother to me,” said Ralph DeLoach, former UC Berkeley defensive end and Dallas Cowboys draft pick. “I wouldn’t have considered signing with anyone else. He’s maintained a friendship ever since.”
Steinberg left his audience with some important advice in an effort to point students in the right direction. He emphasized the importance of finding the right internship and having the right tools to be successful.
“You need listening skills in this profession,” he said. “It’s not about talking.”