Phil Knight


Rodale Books

have both built big-bucks empires out of selling health and fitness to the world, but all that cash can't help them avoid dishonor in this week's Rogues gallery.

And that's all because they couldn't heal a recent rift over a few lousy pages of type to honor a dead man.

The words that now will never see print were intended for a foreword Knight wrote for an upcoming biography of the man he credits for his success and that of Nike. That man, of course, is the legendary University of Oregon track coach Bill Bowerman.

The biography, by former Ducks star Kenny Moore, was going to begin with Knight's elegiac piece recalling how Bowerman first inspired him as a young runner at Oregon, and then how Knight and Bowerman teamed to found a small shoe company in Beaverton.

That foreword will now not be printed because Knight and Rodale couldn't manage to agree how it would be used in advertising.

Speaking from company headquarters at One Bowerman Court, Nike spokeswoman Shannon Shoul said pulling the foreword was "unfortunate" but not a reflection on Knight's esteem for Bowerman or the book.

Rodale officials are also hand-wringing, wishing they could have used Knight's piece. Rodale spokeswoman Katrina Weidknecht says the company regrets the failure to seal a deal.

Both sides agree that no fee was involved. And we realize that negotiations like this one tend to have a lot of strings, and a lot of lawyers, attached.

But when a gazillionaire like Knight and the publisher of Runner's World and other fitness magazines can't shelve their differences long enough to celebrate the greatest track coach of all time? Well, somewhere on that great track oval in the sky, Bowerman must be shaking his head and kicking a waffle-soled sneaker in disgust.

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