Sports Career Spotlight

We've been featuring executives from the sports industry since 2001. Naturally, some of these executives have moved onward and upward in their sports careers. We believe these profiles remain relevant and valuable because they highlight the hard work, dedication, brilliant successes, and lessons learned in a variety of career paths through the sports industry.

Stephen Wade Zucker

Stephen Wade Zucker, President

Zucker Sports Management Group


Stephen Wade Zucker is the President of Zucker Sports Management Group. With clients such as Jim McMahon, Eric Swann, Kenny Lofton and a nationally recognized law practice, Zucker has earned his reputation as one of the preeminent sports and entertainment lawyers in America.

Zucker did not anticipate a career as a sports industrialist at a young age, although he was always a sports nut and a pretty good baseball player. Rather, his focus was simply on the law. He attended Senn High School and University for three years before receiving his B.A. from Roosevelt University in Chicago. Zucker then took the next logical step and attended De Paul University Law School in Chicago, where he graduated in 1966.

His journey into the practice of law landed him a position with the City of Chicago. He originally served as an assistant Corporation Counsel for the city, prosecuting many of the cases that arose in the aftermath of the tumultuous 1968 Democratic National Convention. In those days, he prosecuted Dick Gregory and the Rev. Jesse Jackson, a mere activist then, as well as the late Abbie Hoffman—on misdemeanor charges of breaching the city peace.

Upon reaping the benefits of working for the city, Zucker honed in on opening his own practice, which he did in 1972. He became a successful criminal defense attorney defending, amongst others, Larry Flint, publisher of Hustler Magazine.

In the early 1980’s Zucker forged a relationship with former Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon through his original agent, Jerry Argovitz. In 1984, when Argovitz left the sports business, McMahon approached Zucker to negotiate his contract. He was his first sports client, but it wouldn’t be his last.

Zucker knows how tough it is to get a break into the sports industry and he doesn’t have a “sure-path” to success as an agent. However, he does offer some advice to people trying to start a career in the sport agent biz. “Find that first client and do whatever you can to make sure that you do a first class job for him/her,” he said. “If you do that, then you will always be able to find the new clients, either from your first clients old school or some of his/her teammates who want to switch to an agent who does a good job.” That is exactly how Zucker treated Jim McMahon.

McMahon became one of the most noteworthy quarterbacks in the NFL and a national celebrity. Soon, Zucker represented a number of Chicago Bears players. Steve formed The Zucker Sports Management Group, a full service agency for professional sports figures and several prominent Chicago-based broadcasters. Zucker Sports Management Group now provides team contract negotiations, marketing, promotions and public relations services for its clientele.

Steve has earned a reputation for integrity and innovation in the ever-changing sports representation business. His successful challenge of the NFL drug policy on behalf of Richard Dent of the Chicago Bears has established Steve as a leader in the industry, helping Zucker Sports Management Group to become a premier sports representation firm.

Zucker has set the industry standard for contract negotiations on more than one occasion. He made Deion Sanders the highest paid defensive back in history before ever playing a single professional down. In addition, he obtained the highest signing bonus and the largest dollar amount for a total contract for a wide-receiver at the time for Michael Westbrook. Additionally, over the last few years, Zucker has had seven of his clients become the highest-paid players at their respective positions at the time of the signing of their contracts.

While his job as a sport agent ranks high in his life, his number one priority may be his involvement in charities. In 1974, his son, Herb, was diagnosed with diabetes at 5 years of age. As a result, Steve and his wife Shelly started the Juvenile Diabetes Metro Chapter. The Zucker family has worked closely with this charity for many years. One of the highlights of Steve Zuckers support of this foundation was when Steves client, McMahon, donned a headband reading "JDF CURE" to open Super Bowl XX on January 26th, 1986.

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