Racists and irrepressible devil's advocates will pretend to find truth or other redeeming virtue in the pronouncements of the newly at-liberty Jimmy (The Greek) Snyder.
The rest of us are united in our indignation over Snyder's views of racial progress, genetic engineering and the blessings of slavery. But the rest of us, while perhaps smart enough not to say it out loud, may not be as innocent of "The Greek's" sentiments as we imagine.
There's no question that Snyder came close to a TV record for on-the-air dumbness by a professional sportscaster. He was lunching at Duke Zeibert's restaurant when WRC-TV reporter Edward Hotaling, doing a series of impromptu interviews on the legacy of Martin Luther King Jr., approached him for a taped interview.
Did the TV odds-maker think there was still more to be accomplished in civil rights -- in sports, particularly?
Snyder's response: "They've got everything. If they take over coaching, like everybody wants them to, there's not going to be anything left for the white people. I mean, all the players are black, I mean the only thing that the whites control is the coaching jobs. Now I'm not being derogatory about it, but that's all that's left for them.
"The black talent is beautiful. It's great. It's out there. The only thing left for the whites is a couple of coaching jobs."
It quickly got worse.
White athletes are too "lazy" to practice the way blacks do, he said, but the real reason for growing black dominance in basketball, baseball and football is breeding "the thigh situation," he called it. "In football and baseball and any game that you have to run a lot, I mean your thighs come into prominence, very much so, because that's what gauges your speed and your jump."
"I'm telling you that the black is the better athlete, and he practices to be the better athlete, and he is bred to be the better athlete. This goes all the way to the Civil War when, during the slave trading, the slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid, you see. I mean, that's where it all started."
And that, for Snyder, is where it all ended. Despite his subsequent "heartfelt apology to those I may have offended," CBS Sports canned him.
Interestingly, Snyder never claimed that the dearth of black head coaches in professional sports is due to a lack of black talent. In that regard, he may be ahead of the organization that fired him. How do the executives of CBS Sports explain the dearth of blacks in the ranks of sportscasting and sports analysis which Snyder has just departed?
Are there among the ranks of those blacks who have "taken over" pro sports only Ahmad Rashad, Irv Cross and precious few others with the diction and analytic skills to handle network broadcasting? It happens that the day Snyder was fired, I heard a local radio interview with retired Redskins lineman George Starke. He sounded better, and made more sense, than three-quarters of the analysts I hear on the nets.
Are these jobs being reserved, as Snyder said of head coaches' positions, for whites? Not just in sports, but in the broad range of American professional life, the top policy-making, franchise-directing, thinking jobs are white beyond the ability of talent to explain it.
You have heard any number of white Americans, while professing admiration for Jesse Jackson, argue that he is unelectable because "America isn't ready for a black president." Do you suppose what they are really saying is, "I am not ready for a black president"?
It's fair, as we celebrate the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr., to acknowledge that this country has seen tremendous progress in opportunity for blacks. In athletics particularly, the progress has been stupendous since that long-ago year when Branch Rickey, with commendable courage, integrated major league baseball. But to answer Ed Hotaling's question, an awful lot remains to be changed -- in the behavior of those who run our enterprises and in the attitudes of the rest of us.
It's something to think about while we're clucking our tongues over the indiscretions of a 70-year-old broadcaster. In our minds, we're all Branch Rickey. In our behavior, and in our frequently unexpressed attitudes, we are too often Jimmy the Greek.