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By Dennis Ranahan

I grew up watching Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder on CBS and during my years in the front office of the Oakland Raiders, 1973 to 1976, I got to know Mr. Snyder. He was good friends with Raiders owner Al Davis, and when he was in town Mr. Davis would send me to the Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco, Snyder’s favorite, to drive the CBS talent back to his home in Oakland for dinner.

Snyder was quite different in person with me than his public persona or reports I had gotten on the man. He was thoughtful, soft spoken and in my presence always a genuinely nice guy. I was fresh out of college and working for the best franchise in professional sports, but I had aspirations to follow in Snyder’s footsteps on the handicapping side of football.

In 1981, I opened Qoxhi Picks, a business dedicated to delivering clients winning point spread choices on NFL games and providing information in both print and the electronic media. I did a weekly column in the Oakland Tribune that first season, and from 1983 to 1991 the feature story in Showtime Magazine. I had also done two years of television as part of the Friday night newscast on KTVU and seven seasons on KGO-Radio.

In 1994, Fox secured the rights to the National Football Conference of the NFL and the local Fox affiliated was KTVU, where I had great connections. My focus was now set on getting a spot on their national telecast as Fox was the first network to dedicate a full hour to their pregame show.

Truly not knowing who he was I gave myself permission to call Fox in an attempt to reach Rupert Murdoch, which as one with more knowledge might have predicated never materialized. But, that bold move did get me the name of David Hill, who was tops on Murdoch’s sports staff at Fox and in talking to him I was handed off to a new hire, Ed Goren.

My conversations with Goren were the only ones with Fox executives that actually had legitimate give and take and I told him of my qualifications and desire to be considered for their pregame show to pick a couple games a week. At the time he explained something to me that I did not yet comprehend.

“The NFL is not interested in us promoting point spreads,” Goren said. “Any mention of games and picks need to be done strictly on player matchups and avoid any gambling vernacular.”

My argument was quick in response to this while explaining that I know a World Series Game is not promoted as the Dodgers being a 160 favorite over the Yankees today, but football and point spreads are hand-in-hand. Announcers and journalists will say the 49ers come into the game a 3-point favorite to frame a matchup as easily as they would say Joe Montana and Joe Theismann are the opposing quarterbacks.

Fox didn’t bite, but I kept in touch with Goren in hopes that things would open up in the future. In the meantime, that year I pitched KTVU to be a weekly guest on their San Francisco 49ers highlight show and got the gig. The program was hosted by sports anchor Mark Ibanez and 49ers runningback Ricky Watters. Each week, I did a five minute segment where I would pick a couple games against the point spread off the upcoming week’s schedule. That season I did 20 shows and my picks went 27-12-1 against the point spread.

After the 1994 season, I had the tapes of my work in hand and was most proud of both my insightful observations that focused on team motivation that resulted in a nearly 70% success rate. With that perceived ammunition I gave Goren a call.

He laughed when I gave the report of my season work on one of his Fox affiliates and said, “Dennis, you don’t get it. You winning that much completely eliminates you from consideration. The NFL has instructed us to not promote gambling, and the last thing we could have on the air is someone hitting that kind of success.”

I was stunned. I had missed the implication of our conversations a year earlier and now was being totally rejected based on, get this, being too good.

“We are thinking about doing picks in purely an entertainment format, with a comedian,” Goren explained.

Not too long after that conversation Fox did hire a comedian to fill the role I was hoping to get, and that was some guy named Jimmy Kimmel. I don’t know whatever became of him, but I’m still here picking winners where they are appreciated, for clients of Qoxhi Picks.