SANTA ANA, Calif. - "Show me the money" indeed: A bench warrant has been authorized for the sports agent who was the inspiration for the movie "Jerry Maguire" after he failed to appear in court in a case involving a US$1.4 million debt.
An Orange County Superior Court commissioner authorized the warrant after Leigh Steinberg failed to attend court last week, court records show.
Court papers show Steinberg was ordered to pay $1.4 million last year to the Irvine Company in a default judgment for office space he leased in Newport Beach. Steinberg stopped paying under the terms of his lease in 2009, according to court papers filed by the landlord, which declined to comment on the case.
Steinberg was the inspiration for Tom Cruise's character in 1996's "Jerry Maguire," which turned "Show me the money!" into an enduring catchphrase, though Steinberg isn't actually known for using that phrase.
Steinberg said he's not hiding or running from the law. He said he has an office open for business in Irvine and thousands of friends on Facebook and followers on Twitter.
The 62-year-old agent said he's still representing athletes and acting as a consultant on projects related to sports in movies, television and video games.
Steinberg said he had asked his lawyer to change the date of his Dec. 15 hearing and was told it was taken care of. Steinberg said he was unaware of any warrant in the case, which stems from some payments he missed in 2009 before moving to less expensive office space.
"Since when in this country do you put people in jail for having debt?" he said in a phone interview Thursday. "The point is, I had some financial struggles, which I regret. And I am working hard right now to pay the debts I owe."
The warrant was authorized by Superior Court Commissioner Jane D. Myers. The court would need to receive instructions and fees from the plaintiff, the Irvine Company, for the warrant to become effective.
Steinberg said his financial troubles stem in part from his divorce in 2008. He separated from his wife in 2006.
During the divorce proceedings, Steinberg told the court he had suffered "significant business reversals and losses" that had prompted the couple to refinance the family home, according to papers filed in family court in Orange County.
Since that time, Steinberg has also been sued over allegedly unpaid bills owed to a bank, credit card company, apartment complex and dentist, court records show.
Those amounts were far smaller than the Irvine Company case, including a $6,754 bill from a dentist, the records show.
Earlier this month, the Irvine Company asked the court to require Steinberg to apply a portion of his income stream to pay the judgment, alleging process servers have been unable to directly contact him.
"Steinberg is a semi famous figure with huge apparent notoriety but shows signs of significant recent deterioration," Brooke Brandt, a lawyer for the Orange County real estate company, wrote in a Dec. 9 court filing. "He appears to have a phalanx of security protection around him that prevents process servers from gaining access to him unless he allows it."
The next hearing in the case is scheduled for Feb. 6.
Steinberg is considered the first super agent in sports, having represented such NFL stars as Troy Aikman, Steve Young, Warren Moon and Ben Roethlisberger, as well as boxer Oscar De La Hoya. His resume includes representing eight No. 1 overall NFL draft picks. He began his career in 1975 and was able to secure huge signing bonuses for some of football's biggest stars.
Associated Press writer John Rogers contributed to this report from Los Angeles. AP Sports Writer Bernie Wilson contributed from San Diego.