Tatum’s death makes for somber opening


Received a phone call informing me of the death of Jack Tatum while en route to Napa.

While not enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Tatum is one of the NFL’s most famous defensive backs for his hitting ability as a safety.

Former Raiders coach Jon Gruden used to invite Tatum to speak to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and once told me that while many young players gave blank stares when asked about all-time great players, everyone knew of Tatum.

The images are unforgettable. The blow he delivered against Sammy White when the Raiders beat the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl. The hit that paralyzed Darryl Stingley, an unfortunate accident in that Tatum was playing under the rules in force at the time and did what most defenders of that era did on a routine basis. The 104-yard interception return against the Green Bay Packers. His goal line blow against Earl Campbell, amazing in that Campbell actually kept his feet and scored a touchdown.

Tatum had been battling diabetes related issues for years and was involved in raising money to fight the disease.

Much more to come later with regard to Tatum and reporting day . . .


Jerry McDonald - NFL Writer