Dear Jody: Just do it
A franchise in desperate need of an active owner has too good of an opportunity to pass up with Phil Knight's reported $2 billion offer
PORTLAND — USC has an old press box. I won’t say bad, because there’s history to the Coliseum and the view of downtown Los Angeles around sunset is pretty killer. But the rest just feels like old L.A. It’s cramped, dusty and the line for the can is truly one of the great equalizers between classes.
I’ve forced small talk with Matt Leinart waiting for that thing. I’ve also waited behind the guy behind the $2 billion offer to buy the Portland Trail Blazers.
Now, it shouldn’t be breaking news that Phil Knight, co-founder of Nike and billionaire Oregonian, has to relieve himself, too. We’re all human. I’ve seen him in line for bathrooms that likely fall far beyond the standards of his private jet. I’ve seen him snag a hot dog from under a heat lamp that even I’ve turned town and I’ve seen him rush the field from the sidelines after C.J. Verdell’s touchdown beat Washington in overtime in 2018. Heck, just last month I saw him outside of the tunnel at Autzen Stadium with a smile on his face after Bo Nix hit Dont’e Thornton for a 70-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter of Oregon’s spring game.
What I’m trying to say is: Knight shows up. He cares. He’s not the owner of Oregon, but…
“We do have a president of the university. We do have an athletic director. But we all know what the ranking system looks like,” former Oregon quarterback/analyst Nate Costa once told me.
Costa also told me that Knight routinely listens in on play calls with a headset in his Autzen suite.
“And at away games, sometimes he’s in the box with the coaches,” Costa said. “He doesn’t say anything. He celebrates touchdowns and big plays. He’s not negative. He’s just there like a fly on the wall.”
Just like any fan with a fat wallet would be.
Knight wants Oregon to win a national title just as much as you do and he’s been proving it ever since Mike Bellotti asked for a check to build an indoor practice facility on campus in the late 1990s. The Ducks have come agonizingly close a few times in that span, and now it’s Dan Lanning’s turn to get Knight, 84, to the finish line.
Yes, Knight is 84. Later this year, college basketball will celebrate his next lap around the sun with the PK85 Tournament held at the Moda Center. It’s hard to think that at this age Knight could muster up the same enthusiasm for a team he’s rarely given a public glance too. Then again, I’m reminded of this quote from Knight’s book, Shoe Dog.
“Grow or die,” Knight wrote, “no matter the situation.”
Here’s the situation: