Steinberg, 62, was ordered to pay $1.4 million last year to the Irvine Co. in a default judgment for office space he leased in Newport Beach. He stopped paying in 2009, according to court papers filed by the landlord. Company representatives declined to comment on the case Thursday.
Steinberg was the inspiration for Tom Cruise’s character in 1996’s “Jerry Maguire,” which turned “Show me the money!” into an enduring catchphrase, though Steinberg isn’t actually known for using that phrase.
The sports agent said he’s not hiding or running from the law. He said he has an office open for business in Irvine and thousands of friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter.
Steinberg said he’s still representing athletes and acting as a consultant on projects related to sports in movies, television and video games.
He said he had asked his attorney to change the date of his Dec. 15 hearing and was told it was taken care of. Steinberg said he was unaware of any warrant in the case, which stems from some payments he missed in 2009 before moving to less expensive office space.
“Since when in this country do you put people in jail for having debt?” he said in a phone interview Thursday. “I had some financial struggles, which I regret. And I am working hard right now to pay the debts I owe.”
The warrant was authorized by Superior Court Commissioner Jane D. Myers. The court would need to receive instructions and fees from the plaintiff, the Irvine Co., for the warrant to become effective.
Steinberg said his financial troubles stem in part from his divorce in 2008. During the divorce proceedings, Steinberg told the court he had suffered “significant business reversals and losses” that had prompted the couple to refinance the family home, according to papers filed in family court in Orange County.
Since then, Steinberg has been sued over allegedly unpaid bills owed to a bank, credit card company, apartment complex and a $6,754 bill from a dentist, according to court records.
Earlier this month, the Irvine Co. asked the court to require Steinberg to apply a portion of his income stream to pay the judgment, alleging process servers have been unable to directly contact him.
“Steinberg is a semi-famous figure with huge apparent notoriety but shows signs of significant recent deterioration,” Brooke Brandt, an attorney for the Orange County real estate company, wrote in a Dec. 9 court filing. “He appears to have a phalanx of security protection around him that prevents process servers from gaining access to him unless he allows it.”
Steinberg is considered the first super-agent in sports, having represented such NFL stars as Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, Ben Roethlisberger and Steve Young, as well as boxer Oscar De La Hoya.
His resume includes representing eight No. 1 overall NFL draft picks. He began his career in 1975 and was able to secure huge signing bonuses for some of football’s biggest stars.
The next hearing in the case is scheduled Feb. 6.