Tuesday, 28 September 2010


My obituary of 'The Assassin', Jack Tatum, is in today's Indpendent, you can link to it here. I suspect that Tatum's legacy in the NFL will be very much like Carl Mays' in baseball, a very good, borderline Hall of Famer, who will be ignored because he caused such fearsome injury to another player (in Mays' case, the death of Ray Chapman). I was struck by the ironies in Tatum's life; that his huge hit on Frenchy Fuqua would have produced The Immaculate Reception, Oakland's most shocking loss; that he worked as a trademark enforcer for the NFL; and that he should, by the end of his life, be more or less crippled as well, as if his body needed to understand what Darryl Stingley had had to endure. I was also impressed with the dignity with which Stingley always approached the whole matter; Tatum, while perhaps less callous than the way he was portrayed, was still far more ambiguous.

With the NFL today taking steps to prevent such hits, the nature of the game itself seems sure to change; it's hard to think of what Bear Bryant or Woody Hayes would think of spread offenses and a ban on helmet to helmet hits.

It took two months for Tatum's obit to make it into the paper, which doesn't necessarily bode well for George Blanda, another Raider great who has just passed away. But I'll give it a try...

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