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Jack Tatum: Fine Line Between Being Aggressive and Dirty 12

Posted on July 30, 2010 by Dean Hybl

Jack Tatum fit perfectly into the rebellious reputation of the Oakland Raiders of the 1970s.

In many ways, former NFL safety Jack Tatum, who died earlier this week, perfectly epitomized the hard-hitting NFL of the 1970s and the renegade reputation of the Oakland Raiders of that era. Known as “The Assassin”, Tatum played hard and made no apologies for his style or the repercussions.

Sadly, he is probably best known for his hit on New England Patriots receiver Darryl Stingley that left the wideout paralyzed for the remainder of his life. The hit, which occurred in a preseason game, was a legal hit, but many thought that Tatum played with a dangerous recklessness that was beyond the normal violence associated with the NFL.

Tatum fed off his reputation, a fact that some think is one reason he has received little consideration for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

His biography was called “They Call Me Assassin” and in the book he wrote that “I like to believe that my best hits border on felonious assault.”

Tatum and Stingley never reconciled, though in his 1980 autobiography Tatum wrote, “When the reality of Stingley’s injury hit me with its full impact, I was shattered. To think that my tackle broke another man’s neck and killed his future.”

In recent years Tatum endured physical hardship of his own. He suffered from diabetes and had a leg amputated. He died from a heart attack. Read the rest of this entry →

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