“I just lost track while I was in rehab,” Steinberg told The Associated Press. He said he struggled with alcohol for years but has been sober since 2010.
His attorneys filed the Chapter 7 petition late Wednesday in federal bankruptcy court in Santa Ana, Calif.
The filing comes weeks after an Orange County Superior Court commissioner authorized but didn’t issue a bench warrant for Steinberg after he failed to appear in court in a case involving a $1.4 million debt. Steinberg said his attorney agreed to change the date of a hearing, told him not to show up and then failed to reschedule.
Court documents show a default judgment ordered Steinberg to pay the Irvine Co. for office space he leased in Newport Beach.
The agent said his debts are larger than the $1.4 million owed to the Irvine Co., and that his attorneys are still compiling the total. He said his only assets are some stock.
Steinberg has represented NFL stars such as Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, Steve Young and Ben Roethlisberger. He was the inspiration for Tom Cruise’s character in 1996’s “Jerry Maguire.” The movie turned “Show me the money!” into an enduring catchphrase.
Steinberg issued a statement shortly after the filing.
He said he delayed filing for bankruptcy for several years “because of my moral and legal obligation to people who advanced me funds or performed services in good faith. But the constant and aggressive collection efforts and press initiatives undertaken by creditors have harassed my family and prevented me from working to be able to pay these debts.”
He said prospective clients have been pushed away after hearing of his debts.
“It doesn’t seem logical to prevent a person who owes you money from working in their chosen field by attempting to ruin his reputation, but that is what has happened,” he said. `’I have lived with this in recent years, and it is time to follow a more constructive path.”
Steinberg said he struggled with alcohol. In the past five or six years, “I began to check out episodically for short periods. My judgment and oversight of my affairs was not consistent and at times impaired. I am responsible for my own addiction — no one forced me to drink — and in revealing my struggle with alcoholism, I am in no way justifying or excusing my circumstance. But I discuss it to provide context as well as understanding and inspiration to those who also battle addictive behavior. I surrendered to the reality that I was an alcoholic and my behavior was impacting family and associates in March 2010. I surrendered to the concept that until I tackled alcoholism, other priorities needed to be put aside. … I am responsible for these debts. But my priority was sobriety, and I have been continuously sober since that time.”