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Apparently at first just in it for the publicity stunts, Stewart became a born-again Christian obsessed with "getting the message out" via television. His first major appearance was at the 1977 NBA Finals; by the time of the 1979 MLB All-Star Game, broadcasters actively tried to avoid showing him. He "appeared behind NFL goal posts, near Olympic medal stands, and even at the Augusta National Golf Club." At the 1982 Indianapolis 500, he was behind the pits of race winner Gordon Johncock. Stewart would strategically position himself for key shots of plays or athletes. Stewart's fame led to a Budweiser beer commercial and a Saturday Night Live parody sketch, where he was portrayed by Christopher Walken.
Stewart is currently serving three consecutive life sentences in prison on kidnapping charges, having rejected a plea deal of 12 years in order to spread his message in open court. After being sentenced, he began a religious tirade and had to be restrained by bailiffs. He became eligible for parole in 2002, but was denied as recently as September 2005. After this conviction, he was found guilty of four stink bomb attacks.
"He's a pest, " an NBC executive once snorted. "We try to take him out of a shot whenever we can."
"He got to be a terrific distraction," seconded ABC sports producer Chet Forte. "He would station himself behind home plate and our camera would view over the pitcher's shoulder and it was very annoying seeing this guy waving the signs and all."
Occasionally, those annoyed by Rockin' Rollen did even more than that; forcibly ejecting him from events. "You know you're not wanted when they send security guards to walk you out of your seat," Rollen once commented. Rollen claimed he was hounded by authorities at the 1984 Olympics in Sarajevo who took him for a spy, thinking his JOHN 3:16 placard was some sort of coded message.
Originally posted by mydarkpassenger
I haven't thought about that guy for years. That nut was more than a few fries short of the whole happy meal. He's like an urban legend that just happened to be real.
Originally posted by TheBirdisDone
I remember him!!! Wow blast from the past, I was in High School and my uncle and Dad were talking about him and they went to get a Bible to look up John 3:16. We weren't "Born Again" and practiced luke warm Methodistism - so they didn't know. It is a strong memory because they were both bright men and I was surprised they had to look it up.