Drafted in 1971, Tatum was a member of the 1976 Super Bowl champion team and considered the NFL's premier safety in his nine seasons with the Raiders. Known as "The Assassin", Tatum helped form the Raiders' outlaw reputation that still persists today.
How brutal a hitter was Tatum? He knocked unconscious two Baltimore Colts in his very first NFL game.
NFL.com named Tatum No. 6 on the Most Feared Tacklers of All Time list. Several of his most legendary hits appear dirty by today's standards, but the rules of contact were different in the 1970s. Some of these rules were changed because of Tatum's hits.
"Jack Tatum wanted to be known as the one guy to ever play the game that if you come near me, I'm not only just going to hit you -- I'm going to make you regret that you ever played professional football," said Bob Padecky of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat.
Tatum's legend also extended into college football. At Tatum's alma mater Ohio State, head coach Jim Tressel instituted the Jack Tatum Hit of the Week award, given each game to his team's fiercest tackler.
"We have lost one of our greatest Buckeyes," Tressel said in a statement. "When you think of Ohio State defense, the first name that comes to mind is Jack Tatum."
Tatum had also suffered from diabetes, and founded the Jack Tatum Fund for Youthful Diabetes to aid diabetes research.
Joe Kukura is a freelance writer who urges you to set aside five minutes to watch this vintage NFL Films segment on Tatum's 1976 season.