He brought it upon himself, of course, with his infamous statements of Jan. 15, 1988. Responding to a TV reporter's questions on the occasion of Martin Luther King Jr.'s birthday, Snyder explained his perception of black superiority in sports: "The slave owner would breed his big black to his big woman so that he could have a big black kid. That's where it all started." Then he added, "If they take over coaching, there's not going to be anything left for the white people."
CBS promptly fired Snyder from his $800,000-a-year job, and much of the nation came down on him for his misguided comments. The words drew criticism from politicians like Jesse Jackson and scientists like Stephen Jay Gould, who said, "[Snyder] dug his grave with that ridiculous folk wisdom."
Indeed, the episode haunted Dimitrios George Synodinos until his death. His gambler's life had begun among the seedy set in Steubenville, Ohio. By the time he was 16, Snyder, whose mother was shot to death when he was nine, had dropped out of school to work and bet at a local illegal casino. He often won hundreds of dollars a night, and his success became legend. Snyder moved to Las Vegas in the early 1940s and by his 30th birthday had made more than a million dollars betting on sports and politics. But for all the fame he gained in gambling circles—he invented such bets as the "teaser" and the "over-under"—nothing meant more to him than getting the CBS job in '76. So hungry was Snyder to have a national platform on which to show off his oddsmaking prowess that he once had a fistfight with host and managing editor Brent Musberger over airtime. The Greek's high-rolling style was perfect for the explosion of sports and sports TV.
After he was fired, Snyder returned to gambling as a way of life, playing the horses for high sums. In 1990, a sports handicapping service he ran was fined for making false claims in newspaper ads, and in '91 he tried unsuccessfully to sue CBS over his dismissal'. Those were the last headlines Snyder made until last week, when he lost a wager he had made in his 1975 autobiography: "I'll take 2-1 that when I go, it will be in March," he wrote.
Police and prosecutors investigating another alleged sexual assault by Mike Tyson face a dilemma: how to proceed in a case in which the accuser not only has gone public with her charges, which can complicate the investigation, but might also be a less-than-ideal witness.
LaDonna August accuses Tyson of touching and fondling her and "suckling" the left side of her face in the early hours of the morning of April 8 at The Clique, a cavernous club on Chicago's South Side. Tyson denies the allegations, and as of Monday no formal charges had been brought against him. But he is still on probation for his 1992 conviction for raping Desiree Washington in an Indianapolis hotel room. As a result, he has been prohibited from traveling outside Ohio, where he now lives, while the new allegations are being investigated. In the earlier case Washington, a college student from a middle-class family, proved to be a sympathetic and attractive witness whose testimony the jury found persuasive. Tyson went to jail for three years, and Washington settled a civil claim against him for a reported $1.6 million.
Whatever the merits of her accusations, August, a 25-year-old part-time beautician and liquor-store co-owner from Gary, Ind., might not be such a compelling presence at a jury trial, if her case ever gets that far. She became a widow on Feb. 19 when her estranged husband, who was facing a charge of selling rock cocaine, was found stabbed to death in a Gary alley. She was not implicated in the alleged murder, but prosecutors worry that in the eyes of jurors, she might be guilty by association. More worrisome to prosecutors are two facts. First, days before the alleged Tyson incident, August reached a settlement in a personal-injury suit she had filed following a 1994 traffic accident, one in which the investigating police officer reported that no one had been injured. And, second, her lawyers have already said publicly that she is considering filing a civil suit against Tyson to try to collect damages from him.
Twenty-two years ago, a couple of Washington Post reporters named Woodward and Bernstein were among the crowd on President Richard Nixon's notorious Enemies List. This year another Post reporter, Christine Brennan, finds herself on a new enemies list. In fact, she is the list.