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Oddsmaker and Sportscaster Jimmy ‘The Greek’ Snyder Dies

April 22, 1996

LAS VEGAS (AP) _ Jimmy ``The Greek″ Snyder, a self-styled oddsmaker and expert on sports who was fired as a CBS Sports commentator after making controversial remarks about black athletes, died Sunday at age 76.

He died of heart failure at Transitional Hospital Corp. after a long illness, longtime friend Tommy Manakides said.

``He fought like a champ. He tried to beat the odds of his life,″ Manakides said in a telephone interview.

Snyder turned oddsmaking into mainstream entertainment as part of CBS-TV’s Sunday afternoon ``NFL Today″ pregame shows, and became a popular personality.

That position fell apart, however, in 1988 when he said in a television interview that black athletes were bred to be superior to whites.

During the Civil War ``the slave owner would breed his big black with his big woman so that he would have a big black kid,″ Snyder said. ``That’s where it all started.″

Snyder also said that if blacks ``take over coaching jobs like everybody wants them to, there’s not to be anything left for the white people.″

Later, Snyder said a black athlete was better that a white one because ``he’s been bred to be that way because of his thigh size and big size.″

CBS Sports fired Snyder the next day.

``I am truly sorry for my remarks and once again I offer my heartfelt apology to all I may have offended,″ Snyder subsequently said.

This came in the wake of a 1987 interview in which Los Angeles Dodgers general manager Al Campanis said that blacks lacked ``necessities″ to be major-league managers and front-office executives. Campanis also was fired.

Snyder, who spent 12 years on television, made headlines several years before his dismissal when he and ``NFL Today″ host Brent Musburger got into a brief fistfight at a midtown New York bar. They reportedly argued over the amount of airtime Snyder was getting from Musburger, who also was the show’s managing editor.

An autobiography, ``Wizard of Odds,″ is to be published next month, Manakides said.

Snyder, born Demetrios Georgios Synodinos in Steubenville, Ohio, is survived by his wife, Joan Snyder; two daughters, a son, a brother, two sisters and a grandson.

A funeral service will be held in Steubenville, Manakides said.

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