The Real-Life Jerry Maguire Is A Broke Recovering Alcoholic

Daniel Roberts and Pablo Torre have a fine story in this week's SI (and this month's Fortune—it's a collaboration between the two Time-Life mags) about Leigh Steinberg, the former agent to NFL stars. We learn in the piece that whatever comeback plan he thinks he has, he doesn't really have one. He gets bombarded with emails from high-school swimmers looking for representation and passes them up. He has a Tumblr. He lectures weekly to a class at the UC-Irvine law school while spitting tobacco. And then there was this paragraph, perhaps the saddest thing ever written about a sports agent:

Steinberg occupies a small office with Tom Van Voorst, a fellow recovering alcoholic and lawyer who is also his roommate. The two met at a Sober Living facility in 2010 and now share an apartment in Laguna Niguel. Van Voorst runs errands in Steinberg's maroon Mercury Mountaineer and fields phone calls. "I don't pay him," Steinberg says, "but he gets use of the car, which you'd be totally screwed in Southern California without. And he does the cooking!"

Well, until this paragraph-and-change:

At upscale parties his drink of choice had been Grey Goose; steadily, though, he lowered his vodka standards from Blue Ice to Smirnoff to finally, "when I ran out of money," hefty plastic jugs of Popov.

By the end of 2008, Steinberg and his wife had divorced. He had blacked out, he says, after drinking in front of Steve Young's family on the night the 49ers retired the quarterback's jersey. And he had been arrested for public intoxication after he was found shouting and trying to scale a hill near the Newport Auto Center one night at 7:45 p.m. (He pleaded guilty.) Most troubling to him, Steinberg mangled his relationships with his daughter, Katie, and two sons, Jon and Matt. The sons have retinitis pigmentosa, a rare progressive eye disorder that causes blindness. His kids were often on the receiving end, Steinberg sadly admits, of harsh "drunk-calling and drunk-texting."

He sounds like a super-nice guy. (Even Tom Cruise said Steinberg was deluded, which is an awfully bad sign: "He is not Jerry Maguire ... But he did like to keep going on in that way. It got to the point where it was a little ridiculous.") Can't wait until he's back on top!

'Jerry Maguire aspires to be you' [SI]