I was sorry to learn of the death of Jack Tatum today. I was even sorrier to read stories that said that Tatum was “best known” for delivering the hit that paralyzed wide receiver Darryl Stingley. It seems unfair for unfortunate one play to so define a player — particularly a player of Tatum’s caliber, for he unquestionably was one of the greatest players in the history of Ohio State football.
Jack Tatum, who wore number 32 as a Buckeye, was one of the key players on the Ohio State teams in 1968, 1969, and 1970, including the undefeated team that won that national championship in 1968. Although recruited to Ohio State by Woody Hayes as a running back, Tatum unselfishly switched to the defensive side of the ball and became one of the most fearsome, devastating tacklers college football as ever seen. Tatum was as crucial to the Ohio State defense as Rex Kern was to the Ohio State offense of that era.
Tatum went on to pro football renown with the Oakland Raiders, but had health problems related to diabetes as he grew older. One of his legs was amputated, and he was only 61 when he died. He will be missed by his family, his friends, his former teammates, and Buckeye fans everywhere.