Oddsmaker and Sportscaster Jimmy ‘The Greek’ Snyder Dies
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.