He was known to millions worldwide as The Assassin . Sad news hits us all when we learned that Jack Tatum, the All-Pro safety for the Oakland Raiders had died of a heart attack in the city of Silver and Black, Oakland. He was a youthful 61.
Jack Tatum was known for his hard-hitting plays. So hard in fact, that on Aug. 12, 1978, Darryl Stingley, ran into Jack Tatum on a crossing pattern and was left paralyzed.
Jack Tatum was not the type of player to intentionally hurt players. However, according to his book They Call Me the Assassin he states that "I'll play the game the way the rules are written—I am supposed to hit people and destroy the play and the harder I hit them, the better I can do the job."
Jack Tatum did his job very well.
Jack Tatum grew up a poor child in Passaic, New Jersey. He grew up in a tough neighborhood and became fearless himself. He was a favorite player to come out of that region with All-State, All-National and All-High School awards. At 5'11", 205 lbs he ran the 100yd in 9.6 seconds.
At Ohio State, coach Woody Hayes converted him into one of the most ferocious defensive players in the NFL. Jack Tatum studied quarterbacks, coaches, and even his own teammates. He was quickly befriended by George Atkisson who showed Tatum the art of pass deflecting with "extreme prejudice."
Jack Tatum was drafted 19th in the 1971 NFL draft by Mr. Davis. In fact, Jack Tatum made three Pro Bowls (1973-1975) and had a Super Bowl appearance alongside his nine seasons as an Oakland Raiders. Tatum was the perfect Raider. He played hard he was tough and mean alongside Art Shell, George Atkisson, Cliff Branch, Skip Thomas, Gene Upshaw, and many more....
An admirable quality about Jack Tatum was that he played hard football every game and is the perfect role model for the current Oakland Raiders roster.
Jack Tatum played the safety position better than most. Offensive WR's knew when "The Assassin " was in the coverage and most paid with poundings. Tatum was dedicated to the Oakland Raiders and showed pride and poise in every game he played.
I will miss Jack Tatum and I know that for the millions of Raider fans on this small planet I can say that he was a big man in Oakland, he was what the Raiders are today and will always be missed but never, ever forgotten.
Jack Tatum joins teammates Gene Upshaw, Marquis Cooper, Lyle Alzado, Stacey Toran, Eric Turner, and John "The Toos" Matuszak in Raider heaven. My heart goes out to the families of these men, these fathers and husbands. My condolences to the Jack Tatum family.
Rest in Peace Jack.
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