Hitter, yes. Assassin, no.
That is John Madden‘s assessment of the late Jack Tatum, whom the Hall of Fame coach tutored as a Raider during the 1970s.
The safety co-wrote a book titled “They Call Me Assassin” after his NFL career ended, but he was never called “The Assassin” during his playing days, Madden said.
“After the book, people started to call him ‘The Assassin’ and say that was his nickname, which was never true, and that he called himself an assassin, which he didn’t,” Madden said. “The story is that he’s a high school All-American and he’s recruited to Ohio State as a hitter. And he’s praised to be a hitter. And he plays at Ohio State and he’s an All-American, because he’s a hitter. And he goes to the pros and is a first-round draft choice because he’s a hitter.
“And then he hits a guy, the guy doesn’t get up, and they call him an assassin.”
Madden also said the hit that left Patriots WR Darryl Stingley paralyzed affected Tatum for the rest of his life.
“He never talked about things, and you couldn’t get him to talk about it,” the coach said. “It was something that ate on him for his whole life.”