Jack Tatum, the storied Raiders safety best known for landing the hit that paralyzed New England receiver Darryl Stingley, died Tuesday. He was 61.
Tatum, among the most feared and respected NFL players of his era, died of a massive heart attack in an Oakland hospital. He had been waiting for a kidney transplant.
Tatum was a sledgehammer in Oakland's "Soul Patrol" secondary of the 1970s with safety George Atkinson, cornerback Skip Thomas and Hall of Fame cornerback Willie Brown.
"Guys didn't want to come across the middle because getting hit by him was like getting hit by a truck," Atkinson said.
In a preseason game Aug. 12, 1978, Tatum slammed into the Patriots' Stingley with his helmet as the receiver ran a crossing pattern. The blow paralyzed Stingley from the neck down.
The two never met after the hit. Stingley died in 2007.
"I'm not going to beg forgiveness," he told the Bergen County (N.J.) Record in 2003. "That's what people say: 'You never apologized.' I didn't apologize for the play. That was football."
Tatum told the Oakland Tribune in 2004 that he tried to visit Stingley in a hospital shortly after the hit but was turned back by the receiver's family.
Tatum had recent health problems; his left leg was amputated below the knee as a result of diabetes. He played nine of his 10 seasons for the Raiders and helped them win Super Bowl XI.
His hit on Pittsburgh's Frenchy Fuqua in a 1972 playoff game sent a Terry Bradshaw pass ricocheting to Franco Harris, who ran it in for the winning touchdown — the "Immaculate Reception.''
In college, Tatum and the "super sophs" class led Ohio State to an unbeaten season and the national title in 1968.
Though the safety co-wrote a book called They Call Me Assassin, then two more books with "assassin" in the title, Tatum was never called "The Assassin" during his career, said John Madden, his Raiders coach.
"The story is that he's a high school All-American and he's recruited to Ohio State as a hitter," Madden said. "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."
Tatum is survived by his wife and three children.
Bengals sign T.O.
The Bengals reached a deal with receiver Terrell Owens, AP reported. He's expected to report to training camp soon. The Bengals were his first choice, giving him a chance to team with close friend and fellow VH1 reality TV show star Chad Ochocinco.
EX-BULL ALLEN SIGNS: Former USF safety Nate Allen, a second-round draft pick, signed a four-year contract with the Eagles.
DEAL FOR SPIKES: Former Florida linebacker and second-rounder Brandon Spikes signed with the Patriots.
MORE SIGNINGS: Broncos second-rounder Zane Beadles and third-rounder Eric Decker, and Arizona fourth-rounder O'Brien Schofield all have deals.
DOLPHINS: The Palm Beach Post reported that kicker Dan Carpenter got a $6.205 million, three-year extension through 2013.
GIANTS: Rookie safety Chad Jones got out of a hospital. He suffered serious left leg and ankle injuries in a single-car wreck June 24 in New Orleans.
PATRIOTS: Star receiver Wes Welker went on the active physically-unable-to-perform list but could come off the list by Thursday for training camp drills. Welker had surgery in February on a torn ACL in his left knee.
KIFFIN CASE: USC coach Lane Kiffin says he was surprised by the lawsuit that the Titans filed against him and the school after he hired Kennedy Pola away from the NFL team. Kiffin says Pola's hiring "was done no differently than any we did at 'SC or Tennessee. I didn't anticipate this."
OBITUARY: Former offensive lineman Harry Galbreath, who played five of his 10 NFL seasons with the Dolphins, died Tuesday in Mobile, Ala., of a heart ailment. He was 45. He was All-SEC at Tennessee in 1987.