Steinberg, whose client list includes eight No. 1 overall picks in the NFL Draft, will be promoting his new autobiography “The Agent: My 40-Year Career Making Deals and Changing the Game.”
The University of California, Berkeley graduate said one motivation for writing the autobiography was curiosity. He said he kept getting asked what the life of a sports agent is like and how to enter the field.
Steinberg also mentioned his other motivation was to “talk about good values.”
“My dad had two core values,” Steinberg said. “One was to treasure relationships, especially family and the other was to try to make a positive influence in the world.”
Steinberg said he tries to incorporate those values into his work ethic. He also advocates these values to his clients and suggests they give back.
“I’ve asked them to find a way to set up a foundation that will enhance the quality of life and tackle any issues they’re interested in,” Steinberg said.
He added athletes are role models who trigger imitative behavior, so he wants his clients to make a “positive difference in the world.”
“When Lennox Lewis, the heavyweight boxing champ who I work with, had a public service announcement that said ‘real men don’t hit women,’ it did more to trigger this attitude in rebellious adolescents toward domestic violence than one-thousand authority figures every could,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg met one of his first clients while serving as a dorm adviser at UC-Berkeley. One student in the dorm, Steve Bartkowski, was Steinberg’s resident and asked Steinberg to represent him.
Bartkowski was the first overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft.
“I was fresh out of law school,” Steinberg said. “And we got the largest rookie contract in NFL history.”
Steinberg said another memorable moment in his career was when his client Warren Moon went to the NFL Hall of Fame as “the first modern-era African-American quarterback.”
“Warren and I had been together as lawyer-client for 23 years…He asked me to be his presenter at the Hall of Fame,” Steinberg said. “Normally that’s not something an agent or lawyer would do.”
Steinberg said he has spoken on college campuses for 40 years and the events give him opportunities to mentor young people.
“It’s a way of giving back,” he said. “Plus, we often find young great potential people to work with.”
Steinberg said students trying to get into the sports agentry field should take business courses.
“Whether it’s working for a team, a league, a conference, a college, a player’s association, marketing, merchandising, television, or agentry, it’s necessary to have a certain amount of business skills,” Steinberg said.
“Athletes don’t want people who have the best recollection of the statistics from the 1902 World Series. They want people with a specific skillset.”
Steinberg also advised students should try to get internships in the sports field and then put themselves into the head of the person they are working for.
“Make sure that you become indispensible to the group,” Steinberg said.
Steinberg said he hired two candidates because of their creativity.
One student altered a Sports Illustrated magazine where all the articles were about how Steinberg’s firm flourished after hiring him. Another student recreated Dr. Seuss’s “Oh The Places You’ll Go” story to Steinberg’s life and hiring the candidate.
“Do something unique that will make you stand out,” Steinberg said. “It’s the intern who’s there at 8:30 at night when I’ve got a project to do and he or she is there with you so you involve them in it, which would never happen in the working day.”
“There’s an intense interest in the field of sports representation. I’m probably to blame for some of it….It’s not just a negotiation of contract that is an agent’s role. It’s much more than that.”