Back in the agent business after a lengthy personal detour, Leigh Steinberg's first new football client is, naturally, a quarterback.
Steinberg has signed SMU quarterback Garrett Gilbert, the son of former NFL quarterback Gale Gilbert. Steinberg was Gale Gilbert's agent and also represents SMU coach June Jones.
This is the first time Steinberg, the real-life inspiration for "Jerry Maguire," has represented the son of a former client.
"It's the first signing of the new era," Steinberg said from New York, where he'll host a big Super Bowl party on Saturday. "It's totally exciting to be back in the saddle again. I love it and next year we'll do a full draft.
"The father went to my alma mater, so it's especially rewarding," added Steinberg, who like Gale Gilbert attended California. "The genes count."
A powerful agent since 1975, Steinberg had an all-star stable of clients that included many who would become NFL Hall of Famers, including Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, Howie Long, Thurman Thomas, Derrick Thomas and Bruce Smith. Known for a squeaky clean image, he battled alcoholism and bankruptcy, and let his agent certification lapse.
After getting sober and clearing bankruptcy, Steinberg was recertified by the NFL Players Association last fall and launched Steinberg Sports and Entertainment.
The funding for his new agency didn't come through until November, so with most college players already having decided on an agent, he decided to focus on players who would enter the 2015 draft.
Garrett Gilbert was an exception.
Garrett Gilbert said his father and Jones didn't necessarily steer him toward signing with Steinberg but that he discussed it with both of them.
"Obviously, he's a big name and really that's all I knew about him," the younger Gilbert said about Steinberg. "I knew that he formerly represented quite a few big-time draft picks as well as some of the top players in the NFL. One of the biggest determining factors was that everything seemed to fit perfectly in our discussions and for his plan for me going forward, as well as involving my family in that decision."
Gilbert is currently working out in northern San Diego in preparation for SMU's pro day in Dallas on March 28.