At 65, and having experienced some of the highest of highs and the depths of rock bottom, Leigh Steinberg paused before answering a non-sports question while he sat at his desk near a window that overlooks Lido Isle.
He took time out to talk to me amid another busy day as a sports agent, and sports topic savant, and gave his take about the recent death of Robin Williams.
It would be inaccurate to say Steinberg is preparing for his new weekly Yahoo! radio show, "The Leigh Steinberg Show," which begins Monday and airs from 5-7 p.m., and can be heard online or as a podcast.
He is ready.
Steinberg has been a guest on thousands of radio shows. He has written several opinion columns for various media, including the Daily Pilot, which he continues to do.
He not only provides his opinion, but he also delivers depth on each issue, producing information from a legal or economic angle. He also wants to provide information on the different parts of sports business, including marketing or being an agent.
"I would hope to talk about the flaws in agentry and to try provide information to people wanting to gain access into the sports world," he said.
When talking about Williams, he could also connect to the entertainer, having battled alcohol addiction. Steinberg has been sober since 2010.
Williams' death was a cautionary tale, Steinberg said. And he said more that nearly brought tears to my eyes.
Steinberg has his hand on several upcoming projects – including a sports agent camp in Newport Beach in the fall, movie consulting and breakthroughs in concussion research – and continues to show he wants to be known for more than being a sports agent or even a "superagent."
Question: What was your reaction when Robin Williams died?
Answer: That transcendent, translucent candle of hilarity, warmth and love got snuffed out prematurely. He was a unique, larger-than-life talent and activist that will never be replaced.
Anyone who has experienced substance abuse or addiction understood the duality between that extraordinary energy and a lack of inner peace. I wish that the adoration and love that he experienced in the world would be enough to fill that. But it wasn't.
Question: Did the NFL go wrong by giving Ray Rice a two-game suspension and not more?
Answer: Domestic violence is a major problem. We see a symbolic effect of giving Ray Rice a two-game suspension and a player who uses marijuana a four-game suspension. The symbolic effect is to send a mixed message of how the NFL thinks of domestic violence.
When I had Lennox Lewis cut a public service announcement that real men don't hit women it showed the power the athletes can have. No one is better equipped to trigger that behavioral change than big, macho athletes ... I understand the drug policy was collectively bargained and that was a different issue.
But this just didn't send the right message.
Question: You've written about the NCAA and the demise of amateurism in college sports. Do you see the amateurism going void in high schools?
Answer: I think it's inevitable. The professionalization of sports will leak its way back to every part of the sports structure.
Last week was the early part of the death knell of the NCAA. There was a totally slow reaction to the extraordinary growth in television. The contrast of the revenue from what the colleges are receiving and what the players are experiencing is vast and ridiculous. The current system to have an athlete from a disadvantaged background to come in and live in a place a level lower than his college peers is fraught with potential for alumni and agent supplementation.
I always thought the college athletes should get a stipend. I'll go further than that and say, I don't think we should force any athlete to go to college. One and done has been an abysmal failure. When you have a whole group of students who are just forced to be there, it's very hard to have the true amateurism of sport. I don't think unionization works for sports.
...We are already the seeing the professionalization in high school sports in the ability of certain schools to recruit outside of their district.
[The demise of amateurism in high school sports is] inevitable because of the drive for product and content. The high school sports will soon be more marketable for TV.
For certain schools to recruit that might change the concept of amateurism there.
It's incumbent to step back and think holistically the value of sports and what values we're trying to highlight here.