Charles UpchurchCharles Upchurch 

The FWV Sports & Entertainment practice is proud to have the opportunity to work with high-profile professional athletes, sports properties, special events and brand sponsors. Our teams have led dozens of campaigns on behalf of iconic brands, but one of the most iconic we’ve had the pleasure to work with is legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg.

Steinberg was once the most powerful sports agent in the world. But at the height of his success, the “real Jerry Maguire” was derailed by a series of personal setbacks. Four years ago, he retained FWV to help relaunch his career. Now 68, Steinberg is making a storybook comeback. The past 24 months have been pivotal. With two quarterbacks selected in the first round of the NFL Draft the last two years, Steinberg is ascendant. His memoir, The Agent, has become a bestseller, and he has successfully launched the Leigh Steinberg Agent Academy. With momentum building, FWV has helped push Steinberg’s personal narrative and public profile to new heights.

O'Dwyer's Dec. '17 Entertainment & Sports PR MagazineThis article is featured in O'Dwyer's Dec. '17 Entertainment & Sports PR Magazine

To restore the luster on a once-elite personal brand, FWV’s objective was simple: sustain a year-round national media presence to raise public awareness and influence the positive perception of the Steinberg mystique. In each of the last four years, during Super Bowl week in New York, Phoenix, San Francisco and Houston, FWV leveraged opportunities to maximize media exposure and elevate Steinberg’s status within the NFL community and beyond. For four consecutive days each year, during the most media-intensive week of the NFL season, FWV insured that Steinberg was featured on nearly every major network and sports talk radio station in the U.S., bolstering his reputation as a legendary agent and immeasurably enhancing his ability to attract and excite new clients.

Together with non-stop interviews on Media Row, the Leigh Steinberg Super Bowl Party, a tradition three decades in the making, also provided the backdrop and opportunity for national sports and entertainment media coverage.

Beyond the Super Bowl, FWV drove media attention for Steinberg’s Agent Academy seminar series. Created in 2014, the innovative educational workshop features Steinberg and Steinberg Sports COO Chris Cabott, together with special guests from college and NFL programs, leading an intensive, two-day boot camp for aspiring agents during the off-season. In 2017, the academy was held in Dallas and Newport Beach, Calif. To promote the events and drive brand awareness in critically important NFL markets, FWV booked Steinberg on the leading sports radio and TV stations in Dallas-Ft. Worth, Los Angeles and San Diego, and delivered a feature on the academy in the Dallas Morning News.

From the beginning, FWV focused on research to have a clear view of the media landscape for Steinberg. Journalists with a history of negative coverage from years past were avoided. We tracked the press coverage of other agents for comparative analysis. As a well-known personality who crosses into the category of celebrity, Steinberg is sometimes sought for his viewpoint on sports-related issues in the headlines. We closely monitored relevant news cycles and pitched him for strategically beneficial opportunities, positioning him as a preeminent thought leader in the industry of professional sports. This led to bookings on CNN, CNBC, Fox Business and other networks to offer analysis of trending national stories, including the Ryan Lochte scandal during the 2016 Rio Olympics, the NFL’s expansion into Los Angeles and the Colin Kaepernick national anthem protest controversy in 2017.

Steinberg teamFWV Senior Counselor Charles Upchurch (second row, third from left) with the Steinberg Sports team at Super Bowl 50 in San Francisco.

Steinberg’s signing of high-profile quarterbacks Paxton Lynch (University of Memphis) in 2016 and Patrick Mahomes (Texas Tech) in 2017, each of whom were selected in the first round of the NFL Draft in consecutive years, reinforced the agent’s renewed status as a power player. In all strategic outreach, FWV targeted specific media outlets to influence key audiences, including college football players and their network of influence, as well as the professional sports industry, especially the players, coaches, scouts, team executives, GMs and franchise owners in the NFL.

In total, FWV media relations efforts have secured more than 450 print, broadcast and online interviews, features and news items representing more than 750 million targeted impressions among the audiences of major market media and national outlets.

Our ability to respond quickly to interview requests, along with the client’s ability to deliver intelligent, insightful commentary based on more than 40 years of experience, increased demand and raised confidence among media that requests will be fulfilled and the results would exceed expectations. Today, Steinberg is the most frequently seen and heard sports agent in the country. His ubiquitous media presence allows him to tell his personal story his way, including his commitment to make a positive difference in the world. 

The aggregate effect of Steinberg’s positive media exposure is the opening of doors. The families of prospective draft picks who have seen the agent on CNN or Fox are welcoming Steinberg into their homes. Coaches at major college programs who have seen him on ESPN or the NFL Network, or read the coverage of his success in the recent NFL Drafts, make time to meet with the Steinberg Sports team. NFL owners and GMs have an added level of confidence that Steinberg is fully reestablished as an active and competitive agent, and treat him with due respect.  

Steinberg Sports & Entertainment now represents 17 active NFL players. Steinberg has defied the skeptics, making a dramatic re-entry into the industry he once presided over. With every interview, old perceptions fall away and we see a uniquely motivated individual with a professional pedigree that may never be equaled. The media profile we continue to build for Steinberg will be foundational in the agent’s ongoing return to prominence on sports’ biggest stage.

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Charles Upchurch is Senior Counselor at French/West/Vaughan.