"I just lost track while I was in rehab," Steinberg told The Associated Press. The agent, who was the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire," said he struggled with alcohol for years but has been sober since 2010.
His attorneys filed the bankruptcy petition late Wednesday in federal bankruptcy court in Santa Ana, California.
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, although Steinberg isn't known to use that phrase.