Jack Tatum 5'10" 200 Safety Oakland Raiders 1971 - 1980 10 Seasons 136 Games Played 37 Interceptions 10 Fumble Recoveries 900 Return Yards 1 Touchdown 5 Pro Bowls
John David Tatum was a first round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1971. He was the 19th player picked overall. Tatum did not start playing organized football until his tenth grade year. By his senior year in high school, Tatum was a high school All American. Tatum was recently named one of New Jersey's top ten high school defensive players of the century. Tatum went to college at Ohio State University. Two legends there would help change his path. Woody Hayes was planning to use Tatum as a running back, when his assistant coach, Lou Holtz, persuaded Hayes to move Tatum into the Safety position. Jack was used in several various ways in the Buckeyes defensive schemes. He would cover the other teams best receiver, and also play Linebacker. In his first game, as a Buckeye, Tatum knocked the opposing teams starting tight end and running out from the game. Jack was All Big Ten from his sophomore year until his senior year, and was a two time All American. He helped Ohio State get to two National Championship games in his collegiate career, winning once. Ohio State lost just two games in Tatum's three seasons playing. In his senior year, Tatum was named the National Defensive Player of the Year, and was a top finalist for the Heisman Trophy. Jack Tatum is a member of the the Ohio State Hall of Fame and the College Football Hall of Fame. Current Ohio State head coach Jim Tressel has instituted a "Jack Tatum Hit of the Week Award," given to the player who had the most impressive defensive hit of the game.
Tatum made an immediate impact upon his arrival in the NFL. One game, he knocked out two Baltimore Colts from the game. Hall of Fame Tight End John Mackey was one of the players. He intercepted 4 passes that year, and returned them for 136 yards. Tatum intercepted 4 passes the next year as well, gaining 91 yards on returns. He also set an then NFL record by returning a fumble 104 yards for the only touchdown of his NFL career. By 1973, Tatum was one of the most feared and respected Free Safeties in the NFL. He missed the first game of his career that year, but was named to his first Pro Bowl squad. Tatum would go on to be named to the Pro Bowl team until 1977. In 1977, Tatum snared 6 interceptions, and returned them for a career high 146 yard. He was a key ingredient to the Raiders team that would go on to win Super Bowl XI. Tatum would go on to intercept 5 passes over the course of the next two seasons. Tatum would then be traded to the Houston Oilers prior to the 1980 season. Jack responded by intercepting a career high 7 interception for 100 yards, despite not starting one game. He helped the Oilers win the AFC Central Division Championship. Houston, coincidentally, would then lose to the Wild Card Oakland Raiders in the first round. Tatum retired after that game. His 164 yards returned via fumbles ranks 16th All Time in NFL history, and his 736 yards returned by interception ranks 38th All Time in NFL history. Tatum's 636 yards rank first in Raiders history. It is 12 yards more than Dave Grayson, the player Jack replaced at Free Safety. No matter how one looks at Tatum, he in part of some of some of the most memorable moments in the NFL's history. The famous "Immaculate Reception", at the end of a playoff game in 1972, started when Tatum laid out Pittsburgh's John Fuqua. Most fans recall Hall of Fame Running Back Franco Harris gathering the caromed ball and taking it for a game winning touchdown.
In Super Bowl XI, Vikings Wide Receiver Sammy White was leveled by Tatum on a crossing pattern, but the Vikings Great held onto the ball.
During a 1978 pre-season game, Tatum hit New England Wide Receiver Darryl Stingley in a play that would paralyze Stingley for life.
Tatum happened to play on a team that was called the "Bad Boys" of the 1970's NFL. It was a unique roster full of characters. Tatum was nicknamed the "Assassin" due to his hard hitting ability. The hit on Stingley, coupled with the Raiders already established reputation, gave Jack an unfair label of being a dirty player. He was vilified by casual observers, and anti-Raider media types after this play. Tatum once said, “I always wanted to hit someone hard, and if they got hurt, that was just part of the game. But you always wanted them to be ok.” Tatum admitted his hitting prowess "borderlines on felonious assault." The game was much rougher back then. Yet the media continues to try to spin this fabricated tale that Jack was a cheap short artist. "They said on ESPN that I hit Stingley in the back and that's just a lie," Tatum said. "It's amazing to me that they lie like that when they can just look at the hit. They have it on tape." As you can see in the picture, the hit was clean. Even then-Patriots Head Coach Chuck Fairbanks said the hit was far from dirty. Propaganda machines like ESPN are probably a big factor as to why Tatum has yet to be inducted into Canton. Many media types try to say Jack is remorseless about this play. Tatum has expressed sorrow on televised interviews, only to have that part edited out. "I feel sorry for what happened to him," said Tatum, "I tried to apologize to him a number of times, but people around him wouldn't let that happen." Idiots like Sports Illustrateds Paul Zimmerman, a voter, are other big reasons why Tatum has yet to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It is sick, and unfair, that Tatum is being labeled for one play. A play no one wants to remember in its reality, rather to fabricate this villainous imagery. This play is the main reason the NFL went from the 10 yard chuck rule to the current 5 yard rule. Tatum is still part of the NFL today as part of the Uniform Code Enforcement Team, commonly known as the “fashion police". There needs to be one major enforcement. This on the media who lie. Jack Tatum may have hit guys hard, but that is the way the game was played then. He played within the rules. He was not flagged nor fined for his hit on Stingley. That is the reality. Tatum is a player many look up to. Hall of Famer Ronnie Lott is on record for idolizing Tatum. That is a reality. It is time for the voters to do away with spun fabrications and deal with reality. Just look at his statistics if you want to have disdain for his impact. Jack Tatum deserves his place in Canton.
Notable Players Drafted In 1971 (* Denotes Canton Inductee)
1. Jim Plunkett, QB, New England 2. Archie Manning, QB, New Orleans 3. Dan Pastorini, QB, Houston Oilers 4. J.D. Hill, WR, Buffalo 6. John Riggins, RB, NY Jets * 8. Frank Lewis, WR, Pittsburgh 9. John Brockington, RB, Green Bay 10. Isiah Robertson, LB, LA Rams 14. Clarence R. Scott, DB, Cleveland 15. Vern Holland, OT, Cincinnati 17. Norm Thompson, DB, Saint Louis Cardinals 20. Jack Youngblood, DE, LA Rams * 21. Bob Bell, DT, Detroit 22. Don McCauley, RB, Baltimore Colts 27. Julius Adams, DE, New England 34. Jack Ham, LB, Pittsburgh * 35. Dwight Harrison, DB, Denver 39. Wilbur Young, DE, Kansas City 43. Dan Dierdorf, OT, St. Louis Cardinals * 45. Phil Viilapiano, LB, Oakland 48. Charlie Weaver, LB, Detroit 56. Lynn Dickey, QB, Houston Oilers 57. Jim Braxton, FB, Buffalo 63. Dave Elmendorf, DB, LA Rams 64. Tony McGee, DE, Chicago 67. Ken Anderson, QB, Cincinnati 68. Charlie Hall, LB, Cleveland 71. Bob Newton, G, Chicago 75. Willie Parker, C, San Francisco 77. Bill Gregory, DE, Dallas 79. Lyle Alzado, DE, Denver 86. Gerry Mullins, G, Pittsburgh 98. Don Morrison, OT, New Orleans 99. Joe Theismann, QB, Miami 104. Dwight White, DE, Pittsburgh 106. Larry Brown, OT, Pittsburgh 107. Donnie Green, OT, Buffalo 111. Ray Jarvis, WR, Atlanta 115. Bryant Salter, DB, San Diego 120. Mike Adamle, RB, Kansas City 123. Bob Moore, TE, Oakland 134. Willie Alexander, DB, Houston 136. Phil Wise, DB, NY Jets 142. Doug Dieken, OT, Cleveland 147. Mel Gray, WR, St. Louis 148. Ray Brown, DB, Atlanta 160. Bob Chandler, WR, Buffalo 161. Harold Carmichael, WR, Philadelphia 179. John Watson, G, San Francisco 191. Mike Sensibaugh, DB, Kansas City 199. Ron Yankowski, DE, St. Louis 203. Ernie Holmes, DT, Pittsburgh 206. Ron Jessie, WR, Dallas 212. Floyd Rice, LB, Houston 230. Vern Den Herder, DE, Miami 262. Bob Pollard, DE, New Orleans 268. Mike Wagner, FS, Pittsburgh 272. George Starke, OT, Washington 276. Nate Allen, DB, Kansas City 292. Rich Sowells, DB, NY Jets 297. Jeff Severson, DB, Washington 304. Tom Blanchard, P, NY Giants 305. Horace Jones, DE, Oakland 322. Dan Ryczek, C, Washington 330. Dave Roller, DT, NY Giants 352. Rick Kingrea, LB, Cleveland 361. Bill Dunstan, DT, San Francisco 388. Jeff Wright, S, Minnesota 418. Randy Vataha, WR, LA Rams 441. Don Nottingham, FB, Baltimore