Jack Tatum, One of the Hardest-Hitting Football Players Ever, Who Wrote the Bestseller ‘They Call Me Assassin,’ Dies at 61

Jul 27, 2010  •  Post A Comment

Legendary NFL player Jack Tatum, and All-Pro safety for the Oakland Raiders who was nicknamed “The Assassin,” has died of a heart attack, Sports Illustrated reports.

Tatum, best known for a hit in a 1978 preseason game that paralyzed New England Patriots receiver Darryl Stingley, died Tuesday in Oakland, according to his former Ohio State teammate John Hicks. Tatum was 61.

On Aug. 12, 1978, Stingley ran head-on into Tatum on a crossing pattern. The blow severed Stingley’s fourth and fifth veterbrae and left him paralyzed. Stingley died in 2007.

Tatum played safety for the Raiders from 1971 to 1980, winning one Super Bowl with the team and being voted to three Pro Bowls. He was considered one of the hardest hitters ever to play in the NFL.



  1. He was in my Army Basic Training platoon, and further, in my AIT Class from February through June of 1972 at Fort Ord, California. He was nice to me, and I thought he was a pretty good guy. It was funny to see the DI’s drop him for push ups (which he could do easily)…

  2. He has been wrongly held out of the NFL Hall of Fame because of the Stingley incident. He deserves to be in teh Hall of Fame as one of the best Defensive Backs ever.

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  9. I WAS IN THE SAME COMPANY A-3-1(BEST COMPANY ON THE HILL)I was a squad leader on the first floor.Do you remember the piggyback race we had one day to see who would get to eat first.The Drill sergent got on Jack’s and I got on our platoon leader back.As we raced to the finish line I reached over and grabed the D.I.by the shirt and we all fell to the ground.owthcan

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