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“Jimmy the Greek” Snyder was born in Steubenville, Ohio in 1918 (September 9, 1918). He was a sports commentator and bookmaker and had been a regular on CBS’ NFL Today from 1976 to 1988.

Jimmy the Greek’s  family roots were in the village of Tholopotami, on the island of Chios, Greece.

According to Snyder’s autobiography titled “Jimmy the Greek”, Snyder bet on the 1948 election between Dewey and Truman, getting 17–1 odds for Truman to win (he bet $10,000 on it, a very large amount at the time). In a later interview, he revealed that he was certain that Truman was going to win because Dewey had a mustache and “American women didn’t trust men with a mustache”.

Jimmy the Greek controversy

Jimmy the Greek had been a regular on CBS’ NFL Today since 1976, but he was fired on January 16, 1988 after making several questionable comments about African-Americans during a lunchtime interview on January 15, 1988 with Ed Hotaling. Snyder controversially claimed that African Americans were naturally superior athletes at least in part because they had been bred to produce stronger offspring during slavery:

“The black is a better athlete to begin with because he’s been bred to be that way….And they can jump higher and run faster because of their bigger thighs. And he’s bred to be the better athlete because this goes back all the way to the Civil War, when, during the slave trading, the big, the owner, the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have big black kid, see. That’s where it all started!”

Snyder later expressed regret for his comments: “What a foolish thing to say.” Black former NFL player Irv Cross said in the 30 for 30 documentary about Snyder that he had worked with Snyder for a long time and did not consider Snyder to be a racist at all. In the same documentary, Frank Deford sympathetically noted that Jimmy often tried to sound more educated than he actually was and that his comments were basically him trying to make a point about a subject on which he knew nothing about.

Here’s the interview that got Jimmy the Greek in trouble:

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