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Death of the Assassin: Oakland Raider Great Jack Tatum Dead at 61

Keff CiardelloCorrespondent IJuly 28, 2010

Raider nation will be wearing black for two reasons with the news that former All-Pro safety Jack "The Assassin" Tatum has died of a heart attack on the morning of July 27. 

Despite Tatum playing a decade before I was born, he has always been my favorite all-time raider. His intimidating presence and devastating hits made him the face of the daunting Raider defense in the 1970s.

Reading Tatum's book "They Call Me the Assassin" inspired me to create the screen name "hit_it_like_tatum" when I was in high school.

Arguably, the most memorable Super Bowl moment in Raider's history was in 1976 when Tatum blasted Viking's rookie wide receiver Sammy White as he came across the middle looking for a pass.

White was hit so hard, his helmet flew off and he was left whithering on the ground as Tatum stood over him.

This type of aggressive play made Jack Tatum a fan favorite in Oakland but only in Oakland.  

During a preseason game in 1978, Tatum landed a hit on Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley that rendered Stingley paralyzed. 

Many were outraged saying the hit was uncalled for because it was a preseason game and the ball was completely out of Stingley's reach.

Tatum didn't help with his unapologetic attitude about the situation saying in his book, "I understand why Darryl (Stingley) is considered the victim. But I'll never understand why some people look at me as the villain."

Many believe that Tatum has not been inducted into the Hall of Fame because of the hit and his reaction to it.

Whether this is true or not, it's a shame that great career is remembered by one horrific incident. Tatum will always be my favorite Raider (Stabler is a close second) and will always be a fan favorite around Raider Nation.

Here is the statement released by Raiders upon Tatum's death:

"We are deeply saddened by the news of Jack Tatum's passing. Jack was a true Raider champion and a true Raider warrior. He was a great player and person and has been a big part of our lives since we drafted him in 1971 as a first-round pick out of Ohio State. Jack was the standard bearer and an inspiration for the position of safety throughout college and professional football. Our thoughts, prayers and well wishes go out to his wife Denise and family."

 

 

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