"I understood his viewpoint," says Harris. "I was on a football scholarship. But while I love football, I'd even junk my dreams of the pros if I could make a living in track, like Moses does."
Last year Phillips, who is five years out of UCLA, won the TAC 400 hurdles in 47.67, then turned almost exclusively to the 110-meter high hurdles because that was a Mobil Grand Prix event and the 400 hurdles was not.
This year his best event, the 400 hurdles, will earn Grand Prix money, Moses is back, and it's hard for Phillips, a temperate man, not to envision the day things finally are different.
If loyal opposition is worth anything, then Phillips should be the heir. He idolized Moses in high school and threw a scare into him as far back as 1981. And last week he ran the fastest time this year, 47.95 at the Bruce Jenner Classic in San Jose. He has the early speed that Harris is still working to get. "But the critical thing Edwin has is that he looks like Gregory Hines over the last hurdle," says UCLA sprint coach John Smith. "His stamina gives him control. Now André's work has brought him that, too."
In 1984 Phillips seemed a cinch for Olympic silver, but he came down with a virus. At the U.S. Olympic trials, he finished in the most dreadful place open to man—fourth—and failed to make the team. He sank down, untied his shoes and threw them into the L.A. Coliseum infield. A considerate official returned them. Phillips discarded them again. "These don't concern me anymore," he said.
"After the trials I felt like someone had died," says Phillips. "For days I wouldn't come out of my room. They had to put food under the door. And when I came out, here was this big party in Los Angeles—the Olympics—and I wasn't invited. And almost everybody else on my club [World Class A.C., coached by Bob Kersee] ended up making the team."
Sustained grief just isn't Phillips's way. He brought roses to teammates Valerie Brisco-Hooks, Florence Griffith, Jackie Joyner, Alice Brown and Jeannette Bolden, all of whom won medals. "But I didn't relax until the torch was out. Then I vowed to not let track and field get to me like that ever again. Now I just want to have fun. Because you can stumble in life, just like in a hurdles race. But in both, the main thing is to get up and keep going. It's going to be that way until you die."
That's what Kersee likes to hear. "If anything, André has been too humble, too nice about things," he says. "He's been able to take a blow, reassess, and go out again. But he's realized, finally, that Ed is not about to retire. André has to go out and knock him off."
Myrella Moses' works of art are displayed throughout their new house in Newport Beach. She weaves. She sculpts. She hammers out jewelry. She assembles pieces for which there seems no genre; call them three-dimensional collages or bas-reliefs. One of these is mounted on a wall of the master bedroom. Central to it is a plaster cast of Ed's rear end.
"It hurt, too. Did she tell you that?" says Moses.