Nike’s Phil Knight flips, backs Joe Paterno

Nike co-founder Phil Knight is again backing his old friend Joe Paterno.

Knight released a statement Monday criticizing the report by former FBI director Louis Freeh, which painted Paterno as part of a cover-up in the Jerry Sandusky child sex abuse scandal, as “unjustified and unsubstantiated.”

The statement comes one day after Paterno’s family released its own damning review of Freeh’s findings and just months after Knight himself expressed disappointment in his late friend following the release of the Freeh report.

“According to the investigation, it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences,” Knight said in statement in July. “I missed that Joe missed it, and I am extremely saddened on this day.”

But now, with new questions about the Freeh report made public by the Paterno family’s review, Knight has backed off those comments and is defending the former Penn State head coach again.

Knight, who spoke at Paterno’s funeral, said he made the original statement before he read the Freeh report in its entirety.

“On reflection, I may have unintentionally contributed to a rush to judgment,” Knight said Monday.

On July 12, the same day that the Freeh report was released, Nike announced it would remove Paterno’s name from its child care center at its world headquarters in Oregon.