‘60 Minutes’ stirs up Samoa Controversy
Reader David DiStefano of Sacramento, Calif., asks whether CBS’s “60 Minutes” piece on the preponderance of Samoans in the NFL reached a genetic conclusion, the kind that resulted in CBS’s 1988 firing of Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder. Well, to the extent that “60 Minutes” reported that Samoans are football-advantaged from birth — bigger, stronger and faster — yes, it’s very similar.
My Response to Phil in an email 1/23/10
I find it a little disturbing that you agreed with one of your readers in tying the America Somoa NFL Players 60 Minutes piece to the ignorant (notice, I did not say racist) remarks of Jimmy the Greek.
60 Minutes was focusing on the cultural aspects of how a poor island country like America Somoa can turn out such an incredibly high rate of NFL players despite overwhelming poverty, sub par equipment and incredible odds. I found the piece fascinating and inspiring.
Jimmy the Greek’s comments talked about the genetic superiority of black athletes as if he were talking about livestock or a horse.
I agree it was unfortunate that Jimmy the Greek paid such a heavy price for what I think was simply ignorance and an awkward, politically incorrect and possibly inebriated answer to a gotcha question that should not have been asked in the first place.
But to denigrate the excellent piece of journalism that 60 Minutes showcased last week by comparing it to the Jimmy the Greek downfall years ago is a stretch that sounded like wishful thinking.
I believe that your column is better than that.
P.S. Congratulations on the NY State Sportswriter of the Year Award.