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Oakland Raiders Legend Jack Tatum Dies

NFL legend, Jack Tatum, died of a heart attack today. The former All-Pro Oakland Raider safety was one of the most feared players in the history of the NFL. Appropriately nicknamed the "The Assassin", Tatum was a living nightmare for receivers. He was probably best known for his hit on New England Patriots wide receiver Darryl Stingley, which not only ended Stingley's football career, but also left the receiver paralyzed.

The Raiders released a statement: "We are deeply saddened by the news of Jack Tatum's passing........Jack was a true Raider champion and a true Raider warrior. .. Jack was the standard bearer and an inspiration for the position of safety throughout college and professional football."

Former Ohio State teammate and friend John Hicks said Tatum had diabetes for the last several years causing him to lose one of his legs due to poor circulation.

Hicks also said that Tatum was haunted by the hit that severed Stingley's fourth and fifth vertebrae, "It was tough on him, too," Hicks said. "He wasn't the same person after that. For years, he was almost a recluse."

Although the two never met face to face again, Tatum said he tried to visit Stingley at the hospital shortly after, but was turned away by family and friends. In 2004, Tatum talked with the Oakland Tribune saying, "It's not so much that Darryl (Stingley) doesn't want to, but it's the people around him.......So we haven't been able to get through that. Every time we plan something, it gets messed up. Getting to him or him getting back to me, it never happens."

Later Tatum wrote in his book, "Final Confessions of an NFL Assassin", "I was paid to hit, the harder the better. And I hit, and I knocked people down and knocked people out. ... I understand why Darryl is considered the victim. But I'll never understand why some people look at me as the villain."

Despite any resentments, upon hearing the news of Tatum's leg amputation, Stingley (who died in 2007) responded, "You can't, as a human being, feel happy about something like that happening to another human being".

Current Ohio State football coach, Jim Tressel, issued the following statement, "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."

Jack Tatum was 61 years old.

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