Aside from all of the excitement that comes with an incoming class of rookies is the reintroduction to so many iconic figures who have made the NFL Draft what it is today. If you were to build a Mount Rushmore for the NFL Draft, Mel Kiper, Jr. would be at the center, but so would Leigh Steinberg, who has represented so many high-profile prospects over the years.
His career has been so iconic that one of the most successful sports/rom-com movies (“Jerry Maguire”) ever made was inspired by his life and career. And, unlike Maguire’s fictional and unsuccessful pursuit of “Frank Cushman”, it doesn’t resemble Steinberg’s real-life acquisition of Patrick Mahomes II on his current client roster.
When we first spoke with Steinberg back in January of 2022, Cincinnati was just coming off of the playoff-clinching win at home in the regular season. Since, the Bengals have won two other huge contests, including the 2021 AFC Championship, while Mahomes’ Chiefs bested Joe Burrow in this last year’s Conference Championship.
The back-and-forth between Mahomes, Burrow, the Chiefs and Bengals has become one of the league’s biggest storylines. So, because of his vast NFL experience, professional proximity to Mahomes, and what may be ahead between these two teams, we thought, “who better to ask” about this rivalry than Mr. Steinberg?
“I remember going to golf tournaments, back in the day, that had Dan Marino, John Elway and Warren Moon, Steve Young, Troy Aikman was there,” Steinberg said. “These people ended up the best of friends. Because these are the few people who can understand what the position is about, what the pressures are, and they end up being big admirers of each other.”
If you’re wondering about the gauge in which Steinberg had in this regard, he and his company represented most of those aforementioned names. While still representing many top names today, Steinberg was smack in the middle of the inner circle of many Hall of Fame quarterbacks. That being the case, he’s seen and heard it all among the league’s best.
Burrow and Mahomes are among the league’s best signal-callers right now. And, even with the immense chatter that has occurred of late—particularly in 2022 matchups—these two continue to exude sportsmanship and respect for each other.
“I can’t go into the heads of those two players, but I will tell you, it would greatly surprise me if they didn’t have a mutual admiration,” Steinberg continued.
We’ve seen this among so many competitors across many sports. In football, the dynamics between Peyton Manning and Tom Brady are the most obvious, while Larry Bird and Magic Johnson’s relationship also fits into that narrative.
While some may believe these two quarterbacks are shooting proverbial daggers at each other with each passing matchup, the reality is that they most likely keep it in between the lines. That’s not to say that some “bulletin board material” hasn’t been easily attainable in these recent matchups.
Whether it was Justin Reid forgetting/confusing the names of Tee Higgins, Tyler Higbee and/or Hayden Hurst, or Cincinnati Mayor Aftab Pureval’s pre-2022 Conference game proclamation and Travis Kelce’s “Jabroni” response, this thing has reached new levels.
There’s at least one more rematch in 2023, so we’ll see if the bar is raised. Regardless, Mahomes and Burrow are spearheading one of the league’s best rivalries in today’s landscape.
Leigh Steinberg continues to give back to the sports industry. He is engaging in his Sports Academy. He is hosting an in-person event in Las Vegas during the July 23-24 timeframe, while also engaging in a virtual academy on September 1st. More information can be found on Twitter @TheSportsAcademy or his own @LeighSteinberg.
Our thanks to Mr. Steinberg and his representatives at Steinberg Sports & Entertainment!
If you’re unable to join us live here at Cincy Jungle or YouTube for every episode, all of our podcast content is available here on CJ, the Stitcher, Spotify, iHeart Radio and Google Play Music apps, our Orange and Black Insider YouTube channel, as well as through Megaphone and, as always, on iTunes! Thanks for listening and go subscribe to our channels to be notified when we’re going live and when new episodes are available!