Tatum Passes At 61

Ohio State lost one of its biggest legends Tuesday when safety Jack Tatum, who lettered from 1968-70, died of a heart attack at the age of 61. BSB looks back at his career and unearths some old quotes from the hard-hitting defensive back.

Tatum was an Ohio State star, a three-year starter, a two-time All-American and the national Defensive Player of the Year as a senior. He continued to play a part in Buckeye lore in recent years, coming back in 2004 to speak at Senior Tackle before the Michigan game and also serving as an honorary captain at the USC game a season ago.

He also has been honored weekly during the football season the past few years as head coach Jim Tressel's staff has given out an award after each game for the hardest or best hit.

"We have lost one of our greatest Buckeyes," Tressel said in a release Tuesday. "When you think of Ohio State defense, the first name that comes to mind is Jack Tatum. His loss touches every era of Ohio State players and fans."

Tatum was also known for his hard-hitting style, which earned him the nickname "The Assassin." He came to OSU as a running back from Passaic, N.J., but he didn't last long at that position.

"I was always someone who loved to hit," he told BSB in 1998. "I enjoyed contact more than being hit, so I decided to play defense. They had the opportunity to put me at running back, but I felt more comfortable on defense."

More famously, Tatum compared his hits to felonious assault in his 1980 biography "They Call Me Assassin."

He turned into one of the "Super Sophs" on the 1968 national title team, and Tatum's Buckeye teams finished 27-2 with two Big Ten titles and two Rose Bowl appearances.

Tatum was a first-round draft pick of the Oakland Raiders in 1971 and made three Pro Bowls in his nine years with the Silver and Black. The Raiders won the 1976 Super Bowl with Tatum, who made 37 interceptions in his career.

"I've been part of two great teams during my football career – the Buckeyes and Oakland," he said in '98. "They were different situations, but they both had the same idea, trying to win it all."

Two of his biggest hits in his NFL career came with the Raiders – a helmet-shattering lick on Minnesota's Sammy White in Super Bowl XI and one in a 1978 preseason game that left New England wideout Darryl Stingley paralyzed.

Tatum finished his NFL career with a lone season with Houston in 1980.

He later faced health problems of his own, having one leg amputated below the knee because of diabetes.

He was inducted into the Ohio State Athletics Hall of Fame in 1981 and the College Football Hall of Fame in 2004.

Tatum At OSU:

YouTube: Tatum's famed Super Bowl hit

Buckeye Sports Top Stories