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Urgent Action Needed–Concussions

Sep 25, 2014   //   by SSE   //   SSE Blog  //  Comments Off on Urgent Action Needed–Concussions

By Leigh Steinberg

ORIGINAL POST on Forbes.com-September 24, 2014

Amidst the unrelenting furor surrounding the NFL and domestic violence the past three weeks, a critically important story concerning football, and all collision sports slipped by virtually unnoticed. A projection was made from NFL documents in the concussion lawsuit as to what the future holds for current players. The prediction stated that three out of ten former players would have brain damage as a consequence of playing in the NFL. This news was greeted with a great collective yawn. Which is collective denial.

Three out of ten players suffering brain damage from concussion is arguably way too low. Some neurologists theorize that every time an offensive lineman hits a defensive lineman at the inception of every play it produces a low level sub-concussive event. It is then possible that a lineman who plays high school, college, and professional football could suffer ten thousand sub-concussive hits. He would be aware of none of these, none of them would be diagnosed, because none would produce a knockout. The aggregate of the cumulative damage would almost certainly produce the symptoms of ALS, Alzheimer’s, Parkinson’s, dementia, chronic traumatic encephalopathy and depression that follow multiple concussions.

I love football. I have made a great living from representing professional football players. I do not want to see it go away. But if 50% of the mothers in this country become aware of these dangers and tell their teenage sons that they can play any sport–but not tackle football, what will happen? It will change the socioeconomics of football. The young men who will play it are the same men who box, knowing the risk, but need to take it to escape economic poverty.
It is not just football. Young girls need to be aware of the risks inherent in collisions and heading the ball in AYSO soccer. Concussions occur in all collision sports. The younger brain is at risk for longer recovery and heightened danger. Weren’t Dave Duerson and Junior Seau’s demise dramatic enough to make solving this a national priority?
1)We need discussion about what sports are appropriate for very young children to play. 2) Safe blocking and tackling techniques for football need to be taught from the beginning. 3) Contact needs to be limited in high school football–Practice Like the Pros is a good program 4) Helmetry needs the best in engineering to truly protect. Tate Technology has a promising coil-compression system that dissipates the energy force and reduces it dramatically. 5) Better diagnostic techniques on sidelines so sub-concussive sufferers are not returned to play. 6) Nutraceuticals and pharmaceuticals that a) Make the brain less susceptible to being concussed, b) Reduce swelling at time of hit–Prevacus has promising nasal spray that does just that c) Heal the brain. Stem cell is still a few years off.

We are talking about an injury of a totally different dimension from other sports injuries. The brain determines personality, memory, judgment–what it means to be a sentient human being. We treasure and venerate valiant athletes. It is time to make caring for their health and welfare after the cheering stops a top priority.

CEO Leigh Steinberg and client QB Garrett Gilbert featured on ESPN’s OTL – “The Comeback”

May 11, 2014   //   by SSE   //   Breaking News, SSE Blog, Steinberg Sports News  //  2 Comments

Leigh Steinberg’s client Garrett Gilbert was not invited to the combine. No draft experts or talking heads had Gilbert on their radar screens or draft boards. Quarterback expert Leigh Steinberg knew that SMU QB Garrett Gilbert had the goods to lead an NFL franchise. Steinberg’s comeback as a sports attorney took a major leap forward on Saturday when the St. Louis Rams selected QB Garrett Gilbert with the 214th overall selection in the sixth round of the NFL draft.

“Our ultimate goal is not to compete, but to dominate.” ~ Leigh Steinberg

Furor Mounts Over Clippers Owner Donald Sterling’s Alleged Racist Rant

Apr 27, 2014   //   by SSE   //   Breaking News, SSE Blog  //  Comments Off on Furor Mounts Over Clippers Owner Donald Sterling’s Alleged Racist Rant

By: Leigh Steinberg
ORIGINAL POST on Forbes.com – April 26, 2014 at 6:29pm

TMZ Sports is reporting that Los Angeles Clippers Owner Donald Sterling made a series of shockingly racist remarks in a recorded conversation with his girlfriend – [V. Stiviano.]  How that network could obtain the audio of a private conversation between two individuals is unclear, but if it is real and accurate, an explosion has just detonated in Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Clippers logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

An owner of a professional sports team is a public figure dependent on the allegiance of fans for revenue–these attitudes are unacceptable anywhere–but an owner has a higher fiduciary standard.  An NBA team is a business, but it also carries the imagery of representing that city.  Sports and athletes can provide opportunities for positive role modelling and influencing attitudes–when turned negative, the effects ripple.

Ironically, sports have been a real life paradigm of how players and coaches from different races and backgrounds can work together harmoniously. Players coexist in close quarters in locker rooms and depend on each other in game situations.  In contact sports, they actually bleed together.  The specter of an owner holding prejudice towards black players is an explosive and destructive nightmare.  It makes it worse that Sterling expresses fear of the most universally popular figure in Los Angeles, an exemplar of community involvement, Magic Johnson.

This will present new NBA Commissioner Adam Silver with a dilemma.  Does he pressure Sterling to resign?  Does he fine or suspend the owner?  The players on the Clippers are primarily black or of mixed-decent, (12 out of 14), so is the Head Coach and Associate Head Coach, how can they or any employees be expected to work in an environment that is suddenly racially charged?  Fox Television has the contract to televise Clippers games–how do they react?  What about the numerous sponsors? Clippers ticket holders who are outraged will seek a change. Political figures will take a stand.

This ought to be the happiest and most positive time in the history of the Clippers franchise. They are in the first round of the playoffs with a 2-1 game advantage over the Warriors. They set a new win total this season, played to sellout crowds and have a chance to erode the Laker hold over the city.  They have two brilliant superstars who are media megastars in Point Guard Chris Paul and Forward Blake Griffin. This year saw the emergence of Center DeAndre Jordan as a force.  The Clippers were looking forward to setting the stage for enhanced television revenue. Sterling presided over years of losing and now has the best team of his tenure.

The last thing that Southern California or the larger society needs is to have racially divisive remarks thrown into the public forum. It is also the last thing that the sports community should be experiencing. This issue is not a classic white-black conflict. Decent people from every background will feel the same revulsion.

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Hear the alleged TMZ recording below:

Texans Should Draft Johnny Football

Apr 15, 2014   //   by SSE   //   SSE Blog  //  Comments Off on Texans Should Draft Johnny Football

By: Leigh Steinberg
ORIGINAL POST on Forbes.com – Apr 14, 2014 at 1:57pm

The final phase of NFL scouting has begun. Many of the teams are now flying prospects to their complexes to get a closer look. The collegiate career, All-Star Games, Scouting Combine, and on-campus Pro Scouting Days are all complete. This final phase is an opportunity for the teams to evaluate each prospect’s character, personality, and chalkboard skills.

The consequence of drafting a player who has off-the-field, substance abuse, or violence issues are dire. With these types of issues, the team potentially loses the player and then experiences an acceleration of deferred signing bonus and “dead cap space.” As a result, the team may not only lose the player but they also lose the ability to replace him due to salary cap restrictions.

There will be a “dead week” in scouting prior to the Draft, and the spectacle of actual drafting commences on May 8th. The Houston Texans are in the unique position of holding the first overall pick. They can draft in their number one position or trade the pick for additional draft picks. Texans owner Bob McNair and General Manager Rick Smith are brilliant and accomplished sports professionals who have built a powerhouse franchise that simply went off the tracks last year.

Obviously they do not need my advice or pressure to make the right decision with the first pick. But I have represented 60 first round picks and the very first pick in the first round in eight separate years. Here are my variables and considerations.

When President Bill Clinton ran for office, his focus was simple: “It’s the economy…stupid.” In the same vain, to build a winning franchise in the contemporary NFL – “It’s the franchise quarterback…stupid.” It takes tremendous judgment on multiple fronts to win in the NFL, but the key to getting to and winning in the playoffs and Super Bowl is having the right franchise quarterback as the leader.

NFL Football has evolved from a run-first mentality to a pass-first mentality. Having a quarterback that a team can build around for the next 10-12 years, win “because of” rather than “with” a QB who can elevate his play in adverse and critical circumstances to take a team to victory, is the critical building block for success. Franchise quarterbacks are not easy to find. It is not just a matter of drafting them–the modern cap considerations force a team to start a first round draft pick immediately.

No longer is there room for the tutelage and continued development that players like Aaron Rogers, Carson Palmer, and even Brett Favre experienced. Forget the fast starts of Luck, Wilson, and RGIII–normally a rookie year for a QB is filled with misadventure and a learning curve. A strong offensive line and a good defense can greatly assist the rookie QB’s transition. The right quarterback coach is another essential. The press and fans have high expectations and a young learning quarterback can have his confidence broken with premature “bust” assessments.

Look at the 1999 Draft–Tim Couch, Akili Smith and Cade McNown were all top first-round picks who under-performed. Tom Brady was a 6th round draft pick, Russell Wilson was a 3rd round pick and both over-performed and out-paced expectations. These examples clearly evidence that there are multiple ways for a team to fill the QB position, but generally it is the top of the first round where the greatness is found. From John Elway to Troy Aikman to the Manning brothers to Andrew Luck–the top of the draft should provide the best.

Houston has to believe they will never be this high up in draft order again. Jadeveon Clowney may be a great player, but Houston has already taken the Mario Williams route. They need a quarterback. 100 miles up the road at Texas A&M is where to find the solution. Johnny Manziel is a freakishly gifted savant at the QB position – bright, good arm strength, a fiery leader, and the most amazing ability to sustain plays of any QB in modern history. With him at the helm, every game is winnable. I don’t represent Johnny, but if I owned or managed a team, I would start with him on May 8th.

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