1. Spiral

1. Spiral

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Find Your Inner Strength


All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.

~Edmund Burke

I was lying on the bed of my deceased father in our family home drinking vodka. There I was, sixty-one years old, with three kids, and my only thought for the future was how to find more vodka. I had closed my apartment and business, run through a theoretically unspendable amount of money, and alienated family and friends. I had spiraled down over the last three years in the face of a series of personal reversals. No hope. I felt like Gulliver, lying on the beach, tethered down with ropes, surrounded by Lilliputians sticking forks in me, powerless. Powerless. Wanting to escape from unsolvable problems. More vodka.

Finally, an epiphany, a moment of clarity. My father had taught me two core values: 1) Treasure relationships, especially family and 2) Have a positive impact on the world, helping people who can’t help themselves. And he taught me perspective — I wasn’t a starving peasant in Darfur, didn’t have my last name in Nazi Germany, didn’t have cancer or a crippling disability — what excuse did I have not to try? This was my only life and I could not waste it wallowing in self-destruction.

This wasn’t me. Since 1975, I’d represented more than 300 professional athletes — NFL, NBA, MLB, golf, Olympians. I represented the number one NFL draft pick a record setting eight times. I’d dedicated myself to athlete representation and strived to be an agent of change, not just a sports agent. So much so that my career served as the inspiration behind the main character in the movie Jerry Maguire. But now, I was out of control. I realized I had to get my life back on track.

I went to Sober Living, joined a unique fellowship and dedicated myself to a twelve-step program. After a few months, the craving for alcohol left, but that was the easier part. I had to wade through enormous amounts of financial and emotional wreckage. A Mount Everest of amends and debt. I felt like Sisyphus rolling the massive ball up the hill, only to have it roll back on top of me. Or the boy at the dyke, plugging hole after hole. A Damocles Sword of debt and frayed relationships hung over my head. Would I ever be able to pay people back? Would my son ever talk to me again? Would I ever have a relationship with a woman again and a family? One step at a time.

I had never been particularly religious, but I was able to connect with a higher power to guide me through. I started to remember who I was. I remembered how I had built a practice in sports based on values like self-respect, nurturing family and caring community. I remembered that I had guided hundreds of athletes to established charitable and community programs at the high school, collegiate and professional level that raised almost a billion dollars for charities and stimulated positive imitative behavior. And I knew that this was why I was brought back from the brink — to speak and write and make a difference once again in the world.

To push the concept of a Sporting Green Alliance, which aggregates sustainable technologies in wind, solar, recycling, resurfacing, and water to integrate into stadia, arenas and practice fields at the high school, collegiate and professional level that will drop carbon emissions and energy costs. It will also transform those venues into educational platforms so that millions of fans can see a waterless urinal or solar panel and think about how to incorporate these practices into their own homes and businesses — sports in the forefront of combating climate change. My mission is to use sports to raise concussion awareness, fight against domestic violence, bullying, racism, and make it a better world.

If I stay linked to my higher power, maintain sobriety and fulfill my role as a caring parent, anything else is a blessing.

~Leigh Steinberg

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