The man who I consider the godfather of hard hitting safeties, Jack Tatum, passed away from a massive heart attack. He was 61. Tatum previously battled diabetes and other health problems for years.
To me, Tatum brought in the era of the jaw rattling safety. He was a feared man on the field. Ronnie Lott, Kenny Easley and others were players in the same mold. Hard hitting, fearless, and dared you to come across the middle. Being from Michigan it would be wrong to pay a Buckeye this much respect, but Tatum was the man. He was more known for paralyzing a defenseless Darryl Stingley in 1978. Even though he never formally apologized, there was some remorse for the vicious hit that confined Stingley to an electric wheelchair the rest of his life.
Tatum was best known for his days as a Raider, but played his last year for the Houston Oilers. He may not have been the best to play the game, but to me, the godfather of safeties that made receivers think twice about going across the middle.