The mystery of the missing sports agent has been solved.
Leigh Steinberg, at one time the most powerful agent in the NFL, hasn't gone into hiding after all. A bench warrant has been issued seeking the arrest of Steinberg after he skipped out on an Orange County, Calif. court appearance over $1.4 million in unpaid office rent.
Bad legal advice may be part of the problem. Steinberg tells CBS Los Angeles his lawyer told him he didn't have to appear in court. "I just made the assumption that it was taken care of,” he said.
Football legends Troy Aikman, Warren Moon and Steve Young were represented by the 62-year-old agent, whose business came crashing down a few years ago. His life story was the inspiration for Tom Cruise's character in the iconic 1996 sports romantic comedy-drama "Jerry Maguire."
Ironically, the most famous line from that film was delivered by actor Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s character Rod Tidwell and repeated by Cruise's character Maguire: "Show me the money!"
Steinberg apparently can't do that at the present time, but he's dumbfounded by all the media hullabaloo his financial fumble has received.
"Oh, my God ... I don't think I should replace (in the news) the death of Kim Jong Il and the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Iraq and the question of whether the payroll tax should be extended," Steinberg declared to the Orange County Register. "This is the biggest nonstory," he says. "Why people would be interested, I am not sure."
As for the speculation that he ran from debt and is hiding out from collection companies, Steinberg maintains he's really not all that hard to reach, with over 5,000 friends on Facebook and many more followers on Twitter.
"I give speeches every week, and I go to the office every week," he said.
A lawyer for Irvine Co., which is alleging Steinberg skipped out on the $1.4 million in unpaid rent in affluent Newport Beach, disclosed collectors have been unable to find Steinberg to get the money.
Attorney Brooke Brandt told the court Steinberg "appears to have a phalanx of security protection around him that prevents servers from gaining access to him unless he allows it."
Whatever happens, Steinberg doesn't believe he should end up in handcuffs for turning the ball over in business. "Since when in this country do you put people in jail for having debt?'' Steinberg told the Associated Press.
Steinberg explained he took a break from work to write books, and his debts started to skyrocket. He promises that he's taking responsibility for his financial obligations and his legal team is trying to negotiate a settlement. He just moved into a new office space and is looking to repair his reputation and reconstruct his sports representation business.
"Have I lived a mistake-free, perfect life? No," Steinberg told CBS Los Angeles. "But I’ve tried the best I could, especially in my public moments, to inspire."
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