TODAY

TODAY   |  January 28, 2014

Real-life Jerry Maguire talks addiction struggle

Leigh Steinberg, called one of the greatest sports agents in history, has written “The Agent,” a book about his climb to the top and fall from grace after battling alcoholism. NBC’s Andrea Canning reports. 

Share This:

This content comes from Closed Captioning that was broadcast along with this program.

>>> a story that takes us behind one of sports' biggest agents and his fall from grace . in the 1990s , forbes magazine called him the greatest sports agent in history, but by 2007 , he was out of the business and struggling to stay sober. now he's telling the story behind his career in a new book called "the agent." i can't wait to see this.

>> well, it's really a comeback story and all about, show me the money . it wasn't exactly the hollywood ending anyone would've pictured for the man who once inspired the famous movie character played by tom cruise .

>> jerry! show me the love!

>> show me the money !

>> tom cruise played an over the top super sports agent in the movie. but for leigh steinberg , the man behind " jerry maguire ," it was real life .

>> it was hard to walk through an airport or sit on a plane without someone saying to me show me --

>> show me what?

>> show me the money .

>> steinberg once represented some of the biggest names in sports.

>> remember troy from the super bowl party ?

>> troy aikman , ben roethlisberger and keri strug. while steinberg scored some of the biggest contracts in sports history for his clients, he also insisted they give back to their communities.

>> give domestic violence a knockout blow.

>> i support children's miracle network.

>> all of steinberg 's clients contributed to or created charities that would continue on long after their playing days were over.

>> i grew up around the dinner table where my father kept stressing perpetually, you have to make a difference in the world.

>> when you were on top, what was life like?

>> it was a swirl of press conferences and great athletic events and raising money for charity.

>> came here to fire you, jerry.

>> reporter: but in a plot twist, reminiscent of " jerry maguire ," steinberg says his business partner stole half his clients. at the same time, steinberg 's marriage was falling apart, and he turned to alcohol to soothe his pain.

>> how much were you drinking?

>> depends on what time i started during the day. my best idea was trying to find more vodka to drink. and that's as far as i could see.

>> the death of steinberg 's father in 2004 led to a downward spiral of divorce, lawsuits and bankruptcy. after five different attempts at rehab, he hit rock bottom in 2010 . made a promise to himself to stay sober.

>> look over here.

>> reporter: now he's attempting a comeback of his own. steinberg has his agent's license back and will be working the room at this year's super bowl in new york. question is, who will be client number one of his new chapter?

>> why should an athlete trust you now?

>> well, i'm probably the only certifiably sober agent in sports because i've been tested. no one has ever represented more top round draft picks. i will fight tirelessly and ceaselessly to make sure their dreams come true.

>> steinberg says he will continue to push clients to contribute to charities and be role models in their communities and he thinks that philosophy will resinate with the new generation of athletes, as well. and i have to give him props, when we interviewed him last month, he nailed the two super bowl teams.

>> no kidding. are athletes responding? signing up with him?

>> well, we don't know yet. there's no official word of anyone who signed up. but he has a super bowl party this weekend. he's working the room, we'll see if this will get things going for him.

>> by the way, did he predict the winner?

>> i forgot to ask him who won.