Former Raiders Star Safety, Jack Tatum, Dies at 61

July 27, 2010

Jack TatumJack Tatum, who was once one of the most feared tacklers in the NFL, died Tuesday morning of a heart attack. His death was confirmed by longtime friend and ex Ohio State teammate, John Hicks. Tatum was 61 years old.

The man known as "The Assassin" was selected in the first round of the 1971 draft by the Oakland Raiders. Tatum served the Raiders for 9 out of his 10 NFL seasons, was a part of the 1976 Super Bowl Championship team and also earned 3 nods to the Pro Bowl.

Jack Tatum was a two-time All-American at Ohio State, where he began his college career as a running back, then was later moved to safety.

"We have lost one of our greatest Buckeyes. When you think of Ohio State defense, the first name that comes to mind is Jack Tatum. His loss touches every era of Ohio State players and fans."

Jim Tressel, Head Coach - Ohio State


Tatum, who was regarded as one of the most feared defensive players in the history of the NFL, was perhaps best known for the hit in which he paralyzed former New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley. The hit occurred during a 1978 pre-season game in which the Patriots wide out ran head on into Tatum on a crossing pattern. Stingley's 4th and 5th vertebrae were severed as a result of the devastating blow, leaving him paralyzed for the rest of his life. Stingley passed away in 2007.

Tatum alleges that he tried to visit Stingley in the hospital after the accident, but was immediately turned away by family members.

After nine seasons with the Oakland Raiders, Tatum finished out his career by playing one season with the Houston Oilers.

Later on in his life, Tatum had his own struggles. Due to complications caused by his Diabetes, Tatum ended up having all five the toes from his left foot amputated as a result of a staph infection. Later he also had much of his right leg removed due to an arterial blockage. Tatum devoted much of his life to increasing awareness of Diabetes.

Tatum created the Ohio-based Jack Tatum Fund for Youthful Diabetes, which finances diabetes research. He also served as co-chair of an annual fundraiser for the Central Ohio Diabetes Association, Celebrities for Diabetes, which is held during the week of The Ohio State-Michigan game in Columbus, Ohio.

Last year, the NFL Network ranked Jack Tatum at no. 6 in their list of Top Ten Most Feared Tacklers in NFL History.

Jack Tatum wrote three best-selling books, including: They Call Me Assassin in 1980, They Still Call Me Assassin in 1989, and Final Confessions of NFL Assassin Jack Tatum in 1996.

Tatum is survived by his widow, Denise, and their three children.

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