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Sports agent who inspired Jerry Maguire film files for bankruptcy

THE sports agent who inspired the 1990s film Jerry Maguire has filed for bankruptcy, after he admitted a battle with alcoholism.

Leigh Steinberg, once one of the most powerful agents in US sports, wrote a memo to his friends, associates and newspapers this week saying he had been battling alcoholism for “a number of years”.

Mr Steinberg admitted in the note that his alcoholism had caused him to “check out” for short periods in the last five or six years.

In a letter to US newspaper The Orange County Register, Mr Steinberg wrote: “I am responsible for my own addiction – no one forced me to drink –and in revealing my struggle with alcoholism, I am in no way justifying or excusing my circumstance.

“I have attempted to make amends for the damage that my drinking caused to others. I believe I have many productive years ahead and hope through this process that once again I will be able to make a positive impact on the lives of athletes and the world.”

Mr Steinberg explained how his money troubles began in 2003 when a former employee, who he did not name, borrowed $300,000 from an NFL player, without his consent.

When the NFL player realised the money was missing he "understandably" fired Mr Steinberg and hired another agent. Mr Steinberg discovered that the rival agency was run by someone who used to work for him, and claims he won a legal challenge against the firm for the way that employee left his company.

Since then, he says he has offered to repay the debt plus interest but the lawyers acting on behalf of the rival agent and the NFL player have demanded four times the amount, leaving him "hamstrung".

"If I cannot be recertified, I cannot work in the field that I have been trained in, which is to the benefit of this rival agent," he said. "Keeping me out of business seems to be a priority above collecting the debt, and although substantial payments have been made, the demand is now four times the original amount. My attempts to rebuild my life have been hamstrung."

Before his battle with alcohol, Mr Steinberg had represented Super Bowl quarterbacks Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Aikman and Steve Young plus boxing champion Oscar De La Hoya

In 1996, the 62 year-old inspired the character Jerry, played by Tom Cruise, in the hit film Jerry Maguire. Mr Steinberg and Super Bowl quarterback Troy Aikman both had cameos in the film.