R.I.P. Jack Tatum
Jack "The Assassin" Tatum, a true Raider legend and iconic figure in the Raider Nation, passed away today at the age of 61 due to a heart attack.
Tatum was drafted by the Raiders in the 1st round (19th pick) in 1971 out of OSU and became notorious for being arguably the hardest hitting safety to ever play in the NFL. During his tenure with the Raiders (1971-1979), Tatum earned 3 Pro Bowl trips, racked up 37 interceptions, and helped the Raiders win their 1st Super Bowl.
Tatum's intimidating presence, ultra-cool swagger, and menacing stare gave the Raiders defense an original identity and place in football lore. The "Soul Patrol" of Tatum, George "The Hitman" Atkinson, Skip "Dr. Death" Thomas, and "Old Man" Willie Brown were a riveting group to watch.
Six years ago I had the good fortune of meeting Tatum and getting his autograph at a Raiders fundraiser for FB Steve Smith. I knew that I would only have a minute or 2 to say a few words to Tatum since there was a huge line of Raider fans behind me. I ended up simply saying, "It was an honor and privilege to watch you play for the Raiders, Mr. Tatum. Thank you." Tatum, grey dreadlocks and sunglasses on, sitting behind a desk, handed the picture back and gave me a subtle nod.
Here's a classic video of highlights showcasing Tatum & Atkinson. R.I.P., Mr. Tatum.