Taking Steps to Protect Future Generations with Leigh Steinberg

November 4, 2021

Green Is Good Symbol

From the Green Is Good Archives

Originally aired on October 31, 2009

John Shegerian: This edition of the impact podcast is brought to you by Engage. Engage as a digital booking platform, revolutionizing the talent booking industry. With thousands of athletes, celebrities, entrepreneurs, and business leaders, Engage is the go-to spot for booking talent, speeches, custom experiences, livestreams, and much more. For more information on Engage or to book talent today, visit letsengage.com.

John: Hi, this is John Shegerian. I never could have imagined when we started the Green Is Good radio show back in 2006 that it would grow into a big podcast called the Green Is Good Podcast. And now, we’ve evolved that podcast into the Impact Podcast, which is more inclusive and more diverse than ever before. But we did look back recently at some of our timeless Green Is Good interviews and decided to share some of them with you now. So, enjoy one of our great Green Is Good episodes from our archives. And next week, I’ll be back with a fresh and new episode of the Impact podcast. Thanks again for listening. I’m grateful to all of you. This is John Shegerian.

Narrator: Welcome to Green Is Good. Raising awareness of each individual’s impact on the environment and helping to create a more beautiful and sustainable world. Now, here’s John Shegerian, Chairman and CEO of Electronic Recyclers International, and Mike Brady.

John: Welcome to Green Is Good, Mike. It’s great to be in the studio with you.

Mike Brady: Always, John. I look forward to this every week. And this truly is the high point of my week. A chance for us to entertain, inform and empower our audience, and how we can all come together and make the world a better place in which to live and raise our kids and grandkids.

John: Well, [laughs] today is just another great guest and another great show, but I just want to remind our listeners that you and I tape our show here in Fresno, California, in the Central Valley of California.

Mike: Right.

John: And we have a little bit of local recognition. We have a local superstar among us who ties into today’s show.

Mike: Oh, yeah?

John: We have Tim McDonald, the ex-NFL player who is an amazing player of the San Francisco 49ers.

Mike: Right.

John: He is a local and owns a restaurant, is the coach of the Edison football team, very well known, and very well adored here in this town, and respected. And he used to be represented by our guest today.

Mike: No, Leigh Steinberg?

John: Leigh Steinberg.

Mike: Wait a second.

John: And it was his story, and he was with Leigh, Jerry Maguire was based on Leigh Steinberg’s experiences as a sports agent, and Tim was one of the key role models for the movie and actually also starred in the movie, made a cameo appearance in Jerry Maguire.

Mike: Show me the money.

John: Show me the money. And we have Leigh Steinberg, legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg with us today Mike, on the line. Why don’t we get him now?

Mike: Let’s do it.

John: We are so honored today to have both my friend and legendary sports agent, Leigh Steinberg, on the phone. Leigh, thank you for coming on Green Is Good. You are the legendary sports agent, the man behind Jerry Maguire and Arliss, and so many other great movies and agents and Troy Aikman, Steve Bartkowski. Leigh, thank you, and welcome to Green Is Good.

Leigh Steinberg: Well, it’s my pleasure. I’m excited to do it.

John: Well, Leigh, you know, there’s a famous line in Jerry Maguire, “Okay, just jump right into my nightmare, the water is warm.” Was that a little of you foreshadowing of the Green Revolution? What was coming? What got you into this?

Leigh: You know, a real feeling that our species is in denial, and we’re just not seeing what’s around us that we don’t want to be the first generation to hand a degraded quality of life down to our children. And that, we are sitting around. The dinosaurs, of course, we’re on the planet all those years, and they have these wonderful prodigious bodies but limited intellect and couldn’t adapt to the comet, storms, and other changes environmentally that doomed them. Well, we’ve got these wonderful brains, but we seem to be limited in our ability to adapt because of nation-states, and greed, and multinationals, and a whole lot of reasons for climate change. And it just strikes me that the oceans are rising, the South Pole is breaking up, we’ve got hurricanes and all sorts of environmental changes that are occurring with the temperature rising very quickly. And we need to be, technologically, the generation that jumps on this, and if I can use sports and attitude change to do a clarion call here so that we turn this around rapidly. I was raised by a father who said two things; one, to treasure relationships. And the second was to try to make a meaningful difference in the world. And that’s what we’re trying to do.

John: And Leigh, you had an amazing career and I’ve been so lucky enough to share time with you and know how truly brilliant you are on so many subjects. What was your tipping point as you’ve represented all these legends and sports? What made you jump into and start becoming a thought leader and a doer in the Green Revolution? What was that tipping point moment?

Leigh: I think when I first saw Al Gore’s film and realized how rapidly this whole change was occurring and realized that air pollution, water, the degradation of the rainforest, that it was all going to imperil the next generation. And that it was occurring so rapidly that if we didn’t start to use our best brains and try to retrofit the energy systems that we use to try and do dramatic things.

And when I saw Walmart change the light bulbs in their stores, it was no longer the purview of just tree-huggers. That there was a basic understanding that unless we changed the way that we live, and it doesn’t have to be so dramatic but, unless we put this as a top priority then, we’re going to go beyond the tipping point. And we’ll live in a very different way which we won’t like very much. And we need to lift the veil of denial and start to act very decisively to try and change this.

John: Leigh, you founded the Sporting Green Alliance. What is that? And what are you doing with sports franchises and universities across America to get them to become part of the solution? The Green Revolution solution.

Leigh: Well, basically John, we’ve aggregated a set of sustainable technologies and go on to certain franchises and talk to them about integrating those technologies into their stadia and arenas for two purposes; one, to trap carbon emissions and the energy load. And second of all, to transform them into an educational platform so that the millions of fans, and literally hundreds and hundreds of millions of fans that go to sporting events, all across the country at the high school, collegiate, and professional level can see a waterless urinal, can see a solar panel, can see recycling, and these advanced energy systems and think about how they integrate those concepts into their own homes and businesses so that sports can lead the way.

And if you think about the number of fans that go to games, the amount of real estate that those venues cover, it’s really extraordinary. In addition, we can get franchises and we’ve talked to some of them about being producers of content. So if you could have green superheroes fighting for the environment, green cartoon heroes, educate a new generation of kids to have green forest and use the same power of role modeling that we’ve used in other parts of our practice so that the fact that athletes can trigger attitudinal change, they can be role models to trigger imitative behavior. And so, when we’ve had a Warren Moon, be part of the million people Environmental March on Washington, which is virtual, not actual. [crosstalk]

John: Right.

Leigh: And sit there on that website, or cut PSAs or be part of the environmental media push. If we can have athletes start to trigger attitudinal change and get people to see how they can make a basic change in their lives, then it can make a real difference. It’s the same principle that we’ve used, John, in having a Lennox Lewis say, “Real men don’t hit women.” Or having Steve Young say, “If you really believe in America, prejudice is foul play.”

It can trigger basic change. So that’s what we’re trying to do. Give people a chance to use sports as the venue where they can see these changes.

John: Got it. I mean, that is amazing. So now, what athletes of yours and you find all, the stable of athletes that you’ve represented over the years is just quite quite, frankly, a Hall of Fame of names from Aikman on down and big Ben who’s in Pittsburgh? What are you doing now? What are your athletes? Give us an example of one of your messengers and what the message they’re giving now. If in 1993, just like the name of our show, Leigh, is Green Is Good. Because that’s a play on 1987 Gordon Gekko’s, “Greed is good.”

What if show me the money was the call of the times back in ’93, which was so brilliant, and what you did with Jerry Maguire. What is the call of the times and what is the message that you’re giving your athletes to go and promote. And what is the ripple effect that you are seeing?

Leigh: Well, it’s every part of really how people live. We do a Super Bowl party, as you know. [laughs] Because electronic recyclers was a [crosstalk]

John: We were a partner of yours and we were honored and it was just amazing. You throw a party for 2500 of your closest friends.

Leigh: And they’re 2500 opinion leaders. So, you have a number of the athletes there. Here would be an example. You have all these opinion leaders and so they walk up to the front door of the party and they’re encouraged to recycle their old cellphone or their old computer, through electronic recycling. They walk into a party, and there’s a green carpet. It’s all using solar panels. It’s all biodegradable. All the products are either recycled or made from recycled materials. The waste products, every part of it is a green model so that people can actually see how you could take a home or a business and rewire an energy system, use renewable energy in the same way.

And then, we have athletes who were there who were encouraging all of these tips. So they’re biodegradable materials used everywhere, solar panels used everywhere powering the grid. And so, it becomes a model for how you can rewire a whole system and then we’ll do a silent auction there which or a live auction which aided the environmental fund for Arizona. In one case or the other case, the Tampa Lowry Park Zoo, which focused on conservation. And so, you are using the power of these athletes to impact and affect opinion leaders in the same way. When you have stadia, that does what the Washington Nationals did, which is to have a leech rating from the US Green Building Council or an in-house recycling center and wastewater system designed to filter out, hot dog bits or peanut shells or low flow plumbing. Or the Dallas Stadium with a reflective roof and they use bright star. Or the new Jets-Giants stadium, which is lead compliant.

In each of these cases, the Novacare Complex for the Eagles uses corn plastic dishes and utensils. These are all just examples where you’ve got different methods that people will start to see. The New Minnesota Twins franchise has low volatile organic compounds. Or you’ve got a system called AtmosAir, which is now in the Kansas City and Dallas facilities, which uses this ionization process to take all the bad molds out of the air and, therefore, uses less energy. So these are just a variety of different systems that get people’s imaginations going. And then they can see how they can use them in their own businesses and their own lives.

John: Perfect. Leigh, we’re going to take a quick break to commercial and we’re going to come back. Our listeners got to come back and listen to legendary sports agent, Leigh Steinberg, because he’s here today on Green Is Good.

Voice-over: If a little green is good, more is even better. Now, back to Green Is Good with John Shegerian and Mike Brady.

John: Welcome back to Green Is Good. Mike and I, are so humbled today to have legendary sports agent Leigh Steinberg on the phone. Leigh, thank you for being with us today. And talking a bit about the statistics are just amazing. As you mentioned before the commercial break, the real estate that sports occupy across America and the world, and the difference it can make in the greening of the world.

For instance, say 6480 regular season Major League Baseball games. And as you were saying before the break, imagine if you can help these owners make some minor changes and adjustments in their stadia. In terms of greening their stadia, the impact that would have on all the people who attend those games. Speak a little bit more about that and what else you’re trying to do with all that’s going on.

Leigh: Well, if you really think about it and you look at the amount of attendance there is. Literally, it’s hundreds and hundreds of millions of people go to games at the high school, collegiate, and professional levels. And the amount of real estate, you’d be aware of it if you ever look down as you’re flying, you know, across the city or an area. And you realize just how many practice fields, stadia, high school, indoor arenas that play basketball, hockey, soccer, indoor or outdoor. I mean, the amount of real estate is extraordinary.

It becomes a major issue both in terms of water use. We found, for example, a technology that puts electricity into the water and that enables it to defeat soil compaction, which is what stops agricultural growth. When they do this in a series of golf courses, which is a whole different issue, it saves about 70% of the water. So we’re looking at issues of water, public transportation. The type of products that go into building these stadia. For example, Citi Field with the Mets was built from 95% recycled steel. And how we get people to the games, again, the public transportation. It’s really a whole set of interrelated issues.

If you would think of the fact that you’ve got a major massive amount of real estate and land that’s being impacted for professional sports. And then you’ve got the opportunity to have in essence, discovery centers, where you’ve got young kids growing up learning these practices and their parents thinking about how to integrate them and spread the more energy-efficient practices.

So, we stopped having to be dependent on foreign oil and stopped having to worry about waking up every day, reading the paper about what happens in the Middle East. It offers a tremendous amount of creativity and we’re seeing the best and brightest in American industry. And if I can be so bold, I think that this might end up being the way we save our economy. Because when we get the best and brightest in American industry, such as John’s done with electronic recycling. When you get the brightest minds in this country, all trying to work on solutions, we’re going to start making products that the world wants to buy. And when we’re making products the world wants to buy, it’s going to force China to compete to try to solve things environmentally. And all of a sudden, we re-energize our economy. We put people into green cars. We put people into electronic cars. We’ve retrofit our systems and sports can be a stimulant to lead the way in all of this.

John: Okay. So Leigh, now these are amazing initiatives. Many of them, if not most of them, are paradigm-shifting from what we’re all used to. You’ve worked with these billionaire owners who have been titans in business. Prior to them ever even getting involved with sports. What is it like working with them? And the proposition for them, these sound amazing. But is there also a money saving element to this? Is the proposition that you bring to them, not only do they help change the world and leave a great legacy of helping to save the environment, but can you also save them money in the process?

Leigh: I’ll take the Washington National Stadium, for example, if low-flow plumbing reduces water consumption by 37%, it saves 3.6 million gallons a year. If you use that lighting system, you save 21% in terms of power.

John: Right.

Leigh: If you cut, you can go energy system by energy system. And you will find that Fenway Park in the Red Sox, they put 28 solar panels and it offsets 37% of the natural gas which was used to heat the stadium’s water supply. In Safeco Field, they saved half-million dollars by cutting natural gas and electricity usage by 36% and 18% over two years. They recycle 342 tons of plastic. And you can go on and on. Citizens Park for the Phillies purchased about 250,000 renewable energy credits to offset utility power use for all of 2008 and 2009.

So yes, these savings are really huge. Philips Arena which is going to be used for the Hawks and the Thrasher is LEED-certified. They’re going to save hundreds of millions of dollars in energy costs. Also, in the NBA, you’ve got the Phoenix Suns Arena which added 1100 solar panels, which gives them enough energy to power the equivalent of 26 home games a year. So, you have huge energy savings which are coming back to teams, that are going ahead and being creative.

We met with the Minnesota Timberwolves. They’ve got the first green roof on any arena in the country, which is going to capture a million gallons of stormwater runoff, and it’s going to help in terms of how that water gets diverted away from the Mississippi River. [sigh] And so there are all sorts of ancillary benefits.

John: Sure.

Leigh: This ends up saving money. As I said, you’re going to have energy providers. So, [crosstalk]

John: So, it’s really is a misconception, Leigh, that all of our listeners should hear loud and clear from you that it’s more expensive to go green. It’s really not.

Leigh: No. There are times where, like anything, there’s an initial costs [crosstalk] to put the system in.

John: Sure.

Leigh: But then, it ends up generating massive savings over time. And so, we’ve been able to sort of show the way. And in many of these situations, it’s the wind, it’s Sun, its reflect, it’s the right surfacing, all of this is made available by the genius of American technology. It’s putting our brains back to work, with respect to moving out of a period where energy was just cheap and available to a time of more scarcity.

John: Leigh, before I even became a friend of yours and got to see you upfront and personal, in action. You were known, you made your mark, by insisting that every contract that you negotiated for your players included a clause where they gave back. And I know to date, the number is over a hundred million dollars that your athletes have donated. I mean, it’s a huge number and I want you to share that number with our audience. But is now being green another part of your mandatory clauses that you insist, that your athletes are part of this Green Revolution?

Leigh: Yes. I mean, I talked with every young athlete, about the need to be environmentally aware and to be part of this movement. Because this is the number one issue to me. If we don’t move rapidly to save our species. Remember, the planet will do just fine. The planet survived Ice Ages. The Earth is not imperiled. It’s our species and our quality of life as human beings that’s imperil. The Earth can survive anything. The dung beetle will be here, right? [laughs]

If you go back, 200 million years, the cockroach was here. But that doesn’t help you and my children very much. You know, we’ve established hundreds of high school scholarship funds, hundreds of collegiate scholarship funds. The amount of money that the athletes have raised is in the hundreds and hundreds of millions. I’ve challenged each of them to find something in their own life they’d like to leave a legacy for. Whether it’s moving single mothers into the first homes. At the [inaudible] and outfitting their homes. Or raising money for the fund for endangered species at the San Diego Zoo. Programs that address children’s literacy in Kansas City, that help with at-risk children in Seattle, that send kids to college on scholarships, each athlete finds a way to make a fundamental difference in the world and to retrace their roots.

John: Leigh, I know, our listeners are just so excited to hear you today. And I want them to also know that you do Twitter. That you live in a modern world and you’re @SteinbergSports on Twitter. And also, leighsteinberg.com if they want to learn more about you.

But I remember having dinner with you one night. And you were telling me so many amazing stories. But one of the funny stories I remember is about our children and your son and yourself watching a Cowboy football game. And I know how close you are with the Cowboy organization and with Mr. Jerry Jones and all that. And I think your son turns to you, halfway through the game and said, “Dad, how come you didn’t represent Tony Romo?” And I know you’ve had, I think what, eight number one picks?

Leigh: Well, I’ve had the very first pick in the first round of the NFL draft.

John: Eight times?

Leigh: Eight times.

John:There you go. And I know you turned to him, I know the punchline and you turn to him and you said, “Son if it was that easy, everyone would do it.”

Leigh: Well, [laughs] no. It was just invariably my children would pick as their favorite players. It didn’t matter. I could have 90 of the Pro Bowl players and if I was representing Steve Young, my son’s favorite was Joe Montana.

John: But I bring that up, not to make- I just, because my kids make make fun of me all the time, in so many ways. And not even make fun, they always are challenging us and [crosstalk]

Leigh: Oh, it didn’t matter. I mean, I could have the top 10 rated players. But why didn’t I have Randy Moss? Or I didn’t have Michael Irvin.

John: That’s right. But I brought that up for a different reason. And I brought that up because I know you also told me the story about being young and asking your pops, what he had done in the second world war to help fight the battle against global tyranny.

Leigh: Right.

John: And so, I want to know more as we end this show and leave our listeners something to think about. Why do you do what you do? We have about a minute left and I want to talk about the legacy of Leigh Steinberg.

Leigh: Well, I think I said to you, John, I was raised by a father who said, there’s no they in the world. When you look for someone to solve basic problems, the they is you, and the day is me. And I’m on this one issue.

Traumatized by the fact that our children are going to come to us and ask, didn’t we know that fossil fuel was going away? Didn’t we know that our water and our air were imperiled and water wars were coming? Did we not know that the quality of life, for the very first time in the history of this country, was about to go down and we could do something to change it? And what didn’t we know and why didn’t we do it? And I want to have an answer to that question. And I think, that at least for myself, and I don’t want to judge other people. I want to be part of that solution. Not part of the problem.

John: Leigh, we’re going to ask you to come back next year and talk about all the things that have happened over the next course here because you are one of the great leaders in the sports world. And I just want to tell you, to Mike and I and our listeners out there, inspiration is an understatement for what you do and what you’ve done in your story career. Leigh Steinberg, we are humbled and honored to have you today on our show. And I just want to tell you once again, that you are living proof that green is good.

Leigh: Thank you so much.

John: This edition of the Impact podcast is brought to you by the Marketing Masters. The Marketing Masters is a boutique marketing agency offering website development and digital marketing services to small and medium businesses across America. For more information on how they can help you grow your business online, please visit themarketingmasters.com.