Who could forget the hero of the 1996 Atalanta Summer Olympic Games? Jewell noticed a disgarded backpack, alerted police, and rushed people away just before the bomb went off that had been planted by Eric Rudolph. Jewell’s actions saved lives… lots of lives. He was initially hailed as a hero only to have the Government and the press turn on him and accuse him of having planted to bomb himself to “become famous.” Jewell was called everything from a dumb redneck hick to a failure for only being a part time security guard because he couldn’t get a job as a real cop.
Jewell died the other day at the age of just 44 years of age… his life having been scarred for life by the press.
Jewell won several of his lawsuits against the media, but even after his exoneration it was as if he was damaged goods.
Jewell most likely died of diabetes-related causes (he lost a few toes a couple of years ago to it) and even though he was heavy back in 1996 perhaps the added stress and frustrations caused him to eat more than he would have otherwise.
There was no Twitter or Facebook back in 1996. There was CNN and 24 hour news and that constant pressure to fill the void with coverage, much like what we’re seeing with the Boston Marathon bombing. And the press was eager to jump on to a white Sourthern male who hadn’t been accepted to a police force as the guilty party.
Richard Jewell was a brave an honorable man who was not prepared for all of the hatred and scorn the world threw at him – unfairly – after he went above-and-beyond the call of duty to save lives.
May Mr. Jewell rest in piece and we thank him for his heroic actions.