As you've no doubt heard by now, former Raiders safety Jack Tatum died this morning in an Oakland hospital of an apparent heart attack. Tatum had reportedly been dealing with diabetes for several years and lost his left leg due to circulation problems.
Of course, and perhaps unfortunately, he was best known for paralyzing New England receiver Darryl Stingley in a 1978 preseason game. Tatum never apologized for the hit, though some maintain he need not be sorry for what happened in a brutal, violent game. Stingley died in 2007 and the two never met after the unfortunate hit.
Following is the Raiders' official statement on Tatum's passing:
"We are deeply saddened by the news of Jack Tatum's passing. Jack was a true Raider champion and a true Raider warrior.
He was a great player and person and has been a big part of our lives since we drafted him in 1971 as a first round pick out of Ohio State.
Jack was the standard bearer and an inspiration for the position of safety throughout college and professional football.
Our thoughts, prayers and well wishes go out to his wife Denise and family."
Also, former Raiders quarterback Rich Gannon spoke of Tatum on his SIRIUS NFL radio show.
"I got to know Jack during my time with the Raiders," Gannon said. "Just one of the all-time greats. A very good football player on a lot of those great Raiders teams. He'd come around and watch practice and talk to the young players and was always a sounding board, particularly for the young defensive players. He played the game with a little chip on his shoulder, very physical. A member of the College Football Hall of Fame. It's really a sad day for all Raiders and for all Raider fans across the country."
Tatum's former defensive backfield mate and roommate, Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown, offered his thoughts on the Raiders web site.
"He took care of me," Brown said. "I always (told) Jack to stay in the post. With that in mind, with his hitting ability, the receivers wanted no business of going inside because Jack would be there waiting on them. So he made my job easier by playing outside because I knew nobody could run a slant (pattern) because the team already told them, Don't run a slant on Jack Tatum because, hey, you won't get up off the ground without somebody helping you up."