Q&A with Leigh Steinberg
The super-agent who served as the inspiration for “Jerry Maguire” has a potential first-round pick and is continuing his work to raise awareness about concussions
There was a time when it seemed every top pick in the NFL draft was represented by Leigh Steinberg. And that wasn’t too far from the truth. At the height of his career through the 1990s, Steinberg represented eight first picks and several dozen first-rounders. When Cameron Crowe was doing research for “Jerry Maguire,” it was Steinberg he followed around to study. But Steinberg’s career faced a serious setback after a public battle with alcohol that cost him his agent certification. Sober for six years and having regained his certificate, he now represents University of Memphis star Paxton Lynch in the 2016 draft. He also has formed Steinberg Ventures to raise money for products that can prevent concussions, an issue on which he has advocated for years.
In this interview with SportsTravel’s Jason Gewirtz, Steinberg discusses the impact of concussions, making “Jerry Maguire” and what fans don’t understand about agents.
Concussions in the NFL were up in 2015—271 compared with 206 the year before. As someone who has followed this issue for a long time, why do you think that is—better reporting or more violence on the field of play?
The reality is that the players weigh more, are taller and the physics of the hit have changed. You have immensely larger, stronger bodies moving at a more rapid rate of speed colliding. So the actual physics—the G-force of the hit—continues to move exponentially higher. Back in 1994 we held a concussion conference where I had leading neurologists weigh in on the state of the knowledge, and we issued a white paper that made a series of suggestions to teams. We suggested a neurologist on the sidelines; that we have a mandated regimen of diagnosis and sit-out periods; research in helmetry; modified rules of using the head or neck for blocking or tackling—a series of changes. And not much happened.
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