CBS sportscaster Jimmy 'The Greek' Snyder, who said black...

By JULIE BRIENZA   |   Jan. 16, 1988
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WASHINGTON -- CBS sportscaster Jimmy 'The Greek' Snyder, who said black athletes excel because of breeding during the slavery era, was fired Saturday by the network and retained former Sen. Paul Laxalt as his lawyer.

Snyder's dismissal from CBS's 'The NFL Today Show' show came one day before his one-year contract was to expire, network spokeswoman Susan Kerr said. She declined comment on whether negotiations for a new pact had been under way.

'CBS Sports today ended its relationship with Jimmy 'The Greek' Snyder,' network spokesman Mark Carlson said. 'The action follows remarks made by Mr. Snyder Friday in Washington to a local broadcaster which have been widely reported.'

In the interview with NBC affilate WRC-TV in Washington, D.C., Snyder said whites would no longer play a major part in professional sports if more blacks obtained head-coaching positions.

'If they take over coaching like everybody wants them to, there's not going to be anything left for white people. All the players are black. The only thing that the whites control are the coaching jobs,' Snyder said.

Snyder, in the nation's capital for Sunday's NFC championship game between the Washington Redskins and the Minnesota Vikings, also said black athletes performed better than white athletes for reasons that could be traced to slavery.

'The slave owner would breed his big black (man) to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid. ... That's where it all started,' he said. 'The black (athletic) talent is beautiful.'

Snyder, in a statement issued following his dismissal, apologized for his remarks but offered no other comment except to say, 'I have referred this matter to my attorney, (former Nevada) Sen. Paul Laxalt, who is presently looking into it.'

There was no comment from Laxalt, a former Nevada governor, two-term U.S. senator and a close friend of President Reagan who once owned a Carson City casino, or from his Washington, D.C., law firm.

Snyder, a game prognosticator on the CBS show, initially issued an apology for his remarks Friday and later asked that his comments be taken in totality.

'I want you to listen to everything that was said and then you make your own decision as to what I said that was wrong,' Snyder told United Press International on Saturday before CBS announced its decision. 'I feel quite poorly. Of course, I apologize to everybody.

'Please let me alone for the rest of the day,' he said. 'I got enough headaches right now. I mean I'm 70 years old and I've never been in trouble in my life over anything like this. I didn't think I said anything -- please, please, I don't want to make it any worse for CBS than it already is.'

Carlson said the monetary value of Snyder's contract was 'not public record.'

WRC officials and CBS said they received angry calls about Snyder's comments, prompting him to issue a statement Friday that read, 'I'm truly sorry for my remarks earlier today and I offer a full heartfelt apology to those I may have offended.'

CBS Sports issued an immediate response, expressing regret that Snyder made the 'reprehensible' remarks.

On Saturday afternoon, Gene F. Jankowski, president of the CBS Broadcast Group, said Snyder 'made a number of remarks about black and white athletes which had patently racist overtures. CBS ... wishes to categorically disassociate itself from these remarks.'

Brent Musburger, host and managing editor of 'The NFL Today,' called Snyder's comments 'shocking' and 'unbelievable.'

'This suggests that we have a long way to go in trying to break down some of the old stereotypes,' Musburger said Saturday on CBS network radio.

Harry Edwards, head of major league baseball's minority hiring program under Commissioner Peter Ueberroth, expressed outrage at Snyder's comments.

'Some of his explanations as to why blacks have emerged to a point of near dominance in sports make it clear that the man is abysmally ignorant,' Edwards said. 'How he could sit there for 12 years (on CBS's NFL pre-game show) with the network not knowing of his views is beyond me. Last year, Al Campanis (former vice president of player personnel for the Los Angeles Dodgers) was my candidate for the NAACP man-of-the-year award, and today, I will nominate Mr. Snyder.'

Pluria Marshall, head of the Washington-based National Black Media Coalition, said Snyder's comments made him sound like 'some plantation master.'

Marshall said professional sports remains an area of segregation where 'everything is white except for the athletes that draw people to the stadiums.'

Redskins defensive end Charles Mann said: 'It sounds to me like it is borderline racism. There is no cause for that.'

Uttered on the 59th birthday of slain civil rights leader Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Snyder's comments came nine months after Al Campanis made inflammatory remarks about blacks in sports on the 40th anniversary of Jackie Robinson's entry into major league baseball.

Campanis, in an interview in April on ABC's 'Nightline,' said blacks lacked the 'necessities' to hold managerial or front-office jobs in baseball. He resigned under fire less than a week later.

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