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If Oakland Raiders Could Bring Back One Player, it Should Be Jack Tatum

Tatum was More Than Just a Safety, He was an Assassin

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COMMENTARY | Picking just one Oakland Raider to bring back to today's team is more than difficult.

It's like asking Keith Richards what his favorite drug is. It's impossible to narrow it down to just one.

But if I had to, I'd say it would be none other than Jack Tatum.

"The assassin" was known as one of (if not the most) feared tacklers to ever play football. His hits were so vicious that everyone on the other team always knew where he was on the field.

After all, you don't earn a nickname like "the assassin" for nothing.

The Raiders drafted him in the first round of the 1971 NFL Draft and he immediately fit the Raider image.

Tatum was a mean hitter who nobody wanted to go up against. His vicious, (but legal) hit on Darryl Stingley in a 1978 preseason game against the New England Patriots broke two of Stingley's vertebrae and left him paralyzed for the rest of his life.

Tatum had an aura that screamed "intimidation" as he struck fear into every receiver that ever dared to go across the middle of the field.

Along with Willie Brown, Skip Thomas and George Atkinson, Tatum was a critical piece to one of the most feared and respected secondaries in the history of the NFL.

Today, the Raiders don't have a single player on defense that could scare anybody.

Not only was Tatum a feared tackler, he was an amazing safety. Throughout his career, Tatum compiled 37 interceptions in 10 NFL seasons.

His shivering forearm was just a microcosm for what the Raiders were all about. They were about fear, but most importantly they were about respect.

You did not mess with Jack Tatum.

In the 1970s, the Raiders were one of (if not the most) respected teams in the NFL. They may have only won one Super Bowl during that decade, but they were right there every year.

Let's not forget they also had to go against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Miami Dolphins of the 1970s, the two other greatest teams of that decade.

The NFL Network put Tatum at No. 6 on its list of the 10 Most Feared Tacklers of All Time. How he didn't earn the top spot is mind boggling in itself.

He was a Raider through and through.

Just ask Minnesota Vikings wide receiver Sammy White who got his helmet knocked off by Tatum after an open-field tackle in Super Bowl XI.

Or Earl Campbell who collided with Tatum at the goal line which sent both men stumbling to the ground.

Houston Oilers quarterback Len Dawson called it the most "vicious hit" he had ever witnessed in "a lot of years of football."

Unfortunately, Tatum will forever be linked to his hit on Stingley in 1978. You can't mention one without the other.

This Raiders team has no leadership. They have no one in the huddle who can put the team on their back.

This Raiders team is nothing like the Raiders of old. All they have in common in the uniforms.

If Tatum could come back and play on this team, an immediate spark would be lit under the belly of this group of guys who call themselves "Raiders."

All hail the assassin.

Steven Slivka is a Featured Columnist for the Oakland Raiders. You can follow him on Twitter @stevenslivka.

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