Monday, February 10, 2014

Review of "The Agent"

This book was on my Christmas wish list and Santa came through.   While I knew of Leigh Steinberg through the NFL players for whom he was their agent, many may also know him for being the inspiration for the movie "Jerry McGuire."  He talks about both of those topics as well as his recovery from alcoholism in this book.  Here is my review of "The Agent."

“The Agent: My 40-Year Career Making Deals and Changing the Game” by Leigh Steinberg and Michael Arkush

Football (American), professional, agent, autobiography

January 21, 2014

321 pages

4 of 5 stars (very good)

Leigh Steinberg is a name that is very familiar name to fans of pro football.   He could be considered the first “super agent”, representing hundreds of NFL players.  In one eight year stretch, he was the agent for the top pick of the NFL draft six times.  He built a multi-million dollar business with the agency and was the inspiration behind the movie “Jerry McGuire.”  It all came crashing down when Steinberg decided to face his alcoholism.  He is now four years clean and sober and wrote this book to reflect on his career and his life.

The book reads like many other biographies, starting with the day he realized what was happening, then it talks about his childhood, his education and how he got started in the business. That story is probably the best part of the entire book. Steinberg’s recollection and accounting of how a recent graduate and former resident advisor to the top pick of the 1975 NFL draft, Steve Bartkowski became the player’s agent is one that will have the reader laughing, smiling and realizing that even a simple connection may pay off down the road.

As Steinberg’s career and reputation grow, so does the book’s tales. They grow bigger and more famous, but the writing style wouldn’t let you think so. Steinberg does stay grounded while writing these, not getting too caught up in the notoriety of being famous.  He does take advantage of some of the perks that come with this territory, of course, but not too much because he doesn’t come across as having the fame go to his head.

Where the book started losing some of its luster for me was after he entered rehabilitation programs for his alcoholism.  I was actually surprised that there was not more written about this time for him, but his determination to be back in business is admirable. However, this is where I thought the book changed course and came across as preachy.  Another change in the direction of the book here is that he talked about hot-button political topics and what he is going to do for them. Admirable, but if I wanted to read about the issue that he addresses, there are better sources for that than a sports book.  

This ending did keep the book from a five star rating from me, but it was still a very good book.  If you like to read about some of the NFL stars from the 1980’s and 1990’s, Steinberg has plenty of them to share here. 

Did I skim?

Pace of the book: 
Very good. It was easy to read from start to finish and kept to the chronological order of his life.  Unlike some other biographies or memoirs that tend to skip around as the writer remembers facts, this book stayed on the timeline and that made it very easy to read.

Do I recommend? 
Yes, for any pro football fan as there are great stories on some of the biggest stars.   Also a decent memoir for readers who enjoy reading biographies.

Book Format Read:
e-book (Nook)

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