LS: Yes, they do. I think it's important. If Troy Aikman gives $1,000 to help underprivileged kids in Dallas, that's nice. But because he's a celebrity, his real value is the public identification that allows the charity to then raise thousands or millions of dollars that otherwise wouldn't be going to that charity. My answer is not that my athletes should be less publicized but that the charitable activities of the other athletes should be more publicized.
SI: For years you got favorable press. But last summer GQ portrayed you as a self-aggrandizing publicitymonger who couldn't care less about his clients or the causes he champions.
LS: Ha! It was like Bizarro Comics, in which a guy washes his hands with dirt, and ugly is beautiful, and beautiful, ugly. That article was put together by individuals bent on discrediting me and my law firm. [Art Cooper, editor in chief of GQ, responds: "That's an interesting conclusion on his part. Mostly, we were accused of puffery on that piece. I can't tell you how many people called afterwards and said, 'You ought to write about the real Leigh Steinberg.' "]
SI: GQ has you saying you never recruit athletes. Is that right?
LS: Yes. We don't solicit clients.
SI: What do you mean by that?
LS: As a lawyer, the one area where there's any kind of regulation is in flatly calling someone where there's no prior relationship.
SI: Do you think of yourself as a lawyer or an agent?
LS: As a lawyer.
SI: Is it unethical to call a potential client?