Tag Archives: tatum

“Oakland Raiders Defensive Players Who Should/Shouldn’t be in the NFL Hall Of Fame”

 

jack-tatum-the-assassin

Yesterday we looked at Bill King, Tom Flores, and the Raiders offensive players that might or might not be placed in the Hall of Fame.  Today we will look at players on the defensive end who have been overlooked.

I was really happy to see so many eyes opened on social media yesterday and so many discussions on some of the players I put in my article.  It’s great and fun to discuss and many put some very intelligent thoughts into their responses.

 Eye Opening: 

I’ve tried to do my part of showing people about grudges and biases that writers and voters to the HOF may have had on some players who could possibly be inducted.  I never really understood totally just how vicious and deep some biases were, especially with east coast writers.  It was eye opening.

For the last year and a half I’ve researched the stories of Raider players that might get into the hall and seen how clueless or how vengeful writers are to some of them; especially Raiders.  Ken Stabler and Jack Tatum went through hell with them, and others have been black listed and will never see the HOF even though they deserve it.

Let’s also remember too, if a west coast team plays at night, usually east coast writers won’t even see them play.  They read about the game or look at highlights.  They are in bed sleeping.  They won’t admit that but let’s be real.

Without further ado, let’s look into some of these players credentials and make the argument for or against their inductions.

 

 

HALL OF FAME COACHES
Jack Tatum from Ohio State attends the National Football Foundation’s College Hall of Fame class of 2004 induction dinner in New York, Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2004. (AP Photo/John Marshall Mantel)

Jack Tatum:

When Chris Berman and Chris Collinsworth were talking about players that should be in the HOF a couple of years ago, they both said one guy; Jack Tatum.  And Chris Collinsworth looked like he saw the Headless Horseman while saying it.

The running joke in the NFL in the 1970’s for NFL fans was that when you looked in your closet at night you don’t look for the boogeyman; you look for Jack Tatum.  Just like Dick Butkus, Jack Tatum revolutionized his position.  He was 225 pounds of educated, tough muscle from Woody Hayes University, Ohio St.  He never said much on the field; said less off of it; but wow did he change football and every safety want’s to be him.

“Jack was my guy”, said a proud Ronnie Lott.  “Everything I did I tried to copy from him.  He was the man”.

NFL Bad Boy Conrad Dobler was amazed at Tatum.  “Jack hit people so hard.  It was like when he hit them they would not be hurt but they would be buried”.  Running mate and trash talker of the Soul Patrol George Atkinson said, “Even I could not believe the force he hit people with.  It sounded like a car wreck when he hit someone. His angles and his timing were perfect.  No one wanted to come over the middle because it was like being hit by a truck.  I’ve never seen anything like it”.

Tatum could take on Tackles and stop the run, or eliminate a WR so that they would never want to catch a ball over the middle again.  He was so tough that if he was on the other side of the field and knew he wouldn’t make the play, he would go after anyone in his area just to hit them.  Iconic Dolphins WR Paul Warfield once said, “if you didn’t have your head on a swivel against the Raiders, you would not finish the game.  They were that scary.”

In his famous hit in the Super Bowl against the Vikings, people could not believe Sammy White caught the ball.  Viking great Fran Tarkenton explained the play.  “I was watching this helmet fly by me.  For a split second I literally thought Sammy’s head was in it.  I never heard a harder hit.  How he caught that is beyond me”.

Sadly in a meaningless exhibition game he hit Patriots WR Darryl Stingley in a very legal hit.  In fact the NFL and even the Patriots coaching staff went over the film dozens of times and admitted Tatum did nothing wrong.  Stingley was paralyzed and his family was very angry at Tatum.  Tatum said he tried to reach out to the family but they refused him.  John Madden actually visited Stingley instead and said Jack never got over it.  The east coast media; especially Boston; shredded Tatum in the papers for years and vowed he’d never be in the HOF.  He sadly died at the age of 61.

Deserves to be in the HOF: YES YES YES

Will be Voted into HOF: No

 

lyle alzado

Lyle Alzado:

Lyle Alzado roamed the field like a volcano ready to erupt.  His Raider teammates called him “Three Mile Lyle” after the explosion of the nuclear plant Three Mile Island.  No one knew when he’d blow up.

He grew up with an abusive father.  Once when a sibling was getting beaten, Lyle at the age of 15 protected them and hit his father and broke his jaw.  Lyle’s father called the police and pressed charges; assault.  He was arrested.  The scars on his soul were deep and unexpressed.

His life was one big tornado.  In an amazing career, this great pass rusher ended with 97 sacks.  Lyle is a hall of famer through and through but there is a saying if you work for or work with the NFL; Protect the Shield.

Just like with police and politicians, they feel you keep your mouth closed and Lyle didn’t.  While he was dying of brain cancer and losing over 100 pounds, he did interviews talking about his immense use of steroids.  Players hated him for it because it tarnished them; the NFL hated him for it because it embarrassed them.  A year after his death, the NFL started testing for steroids, many say due to the backlash of Lyle’s speaking out.

He sadly died at the age of 43.  Many said he was always looking for happiness and peace, but never really found it.  I hope he finally has.

Deserves to be in the HOF: For Sure

Will He be Voted into HOF:  No

Rod-Martin-Dominic-DiSaia-ESPN

Rod Martin:

I remember talking to an east coast writer and asking him what he thought about Rod Martin maybe going into the hall of fame.  His answer?  “Who is Rod Martin”.  See what I’m telling you?

Don’t get me started on how clueless some Americans are in our history. Sports is included.  Why sports fans don’t educate their kids on the history of their teams is beyond me.  We should have more of an appreciation of the foundation of a team and not just live life like we’re 15 year old girls. For the most part as a nation we are clueless if it happened before 1990.  (Rant over).

Rod Martin had a long and illustrious career as linebacker of the Oakland Raiders.  He had the greatest defensive Super Bowl of all time with 3 interceptions against the Eagles.  People also forget he played a key role in the Washington win in the Super Bowl too with many key plays including stopping John Riggins on a 3rd and 4th and short, once near the goal line.  He also batted down key passes and picked up a fumble.

He was AFC defensive player of the year one time and a pro bowler twice.  He was a mainstay for the Raiders and in the biggest games he played his best.  One of the forgotten Raiders who should be better remembered.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Yes

Will be Voted into HOF: No

john matuszak

John Matuszak:

He once overdosed when he was with Kansas City being taken to the hospital while his coach gave him chest compressions on the way to the hospital.  Raider staff members had to sleep in front of his hotel room to make sure he wouldn’t leave at night and party.  Fans saw him as a big ton of fun, but at times players saw him as a big pain.  A nice guy off of drugs, but a whirlwind while on them.

Matt Millen wrote in his book at what a pain John was at times.  He used drugs often.  Qaaludes, Valium, pot, cocaine, pain killers, alcohol.  Nothing was off limits when the Tooz was around.  His partying was of legend.  The night before the Raiders played the Eagles in the Super Bowl he said he would patrol Bourbon Street to make sure Raider players were in at a decent hour.  He ended up partying until 3 a.m. and was fined $1000.  Disciplined Dick Vermeil told the national media, “if that were an Eagle, his ass would be on a plane home by now”.

In the 1970’s the strong man competitions on ABC were extremely popular.  Most trained over 6 months for the events.  Just to pass time, Matuszak entered into one competition; without a day of training.  Most of the competitors kind of laughed at such arrogance.  After the smoke cleared, he placed in the top 10 at 9th.  “He’s super human”, said one competitor.  “I really never saw anything like him”.

Once when the Tooz was arrested, Ken Stabler had to bail him out.  When he got to the Police Station Stabler said, “Drunk, cowboy hat, cowboy boots and no clothes.  Yep, that’s my roomie; I’d know him anywhere”.

On the field John was a great player one minute, and a disappearing act the next.  He was a good guy when sober and he played well, but it was hard to get him when he wasn’t high off the field.  He was an inconsistent but solid player.  No telling how good this 6′ 8″ giant could have been.  Sadly at the age of 38 he died of an accidental overdose of pain killers.  A small amount of cocaine was found in his system.  Sadly 2 years later one of his sisters Dawn passed away suddenly.  Their family went through a lot of pain.

For many he will forever be fondly known as Sloth in the movies Goonies.  The stories of his kindness are of legend.  It took 4-5 hours to put on his makeup.  The kids in the movie adored the Tooz and they constantly played pranks on him.  He never said a word and just laughed.  He said once, “How can you get mad at kids who are just having the time of their lives”.  One of the kids said, “I saw him play football on television and he looked so mean.  But with us he was just our Giant friend; he was Sloth to us”.  He had several acting accomplishments including a memorable scene in North Dallas Forty.  He was well liked by a lot of people on the sets who still talk of him fondly.

Deserves to be in the HOF: No

Will be Voted into HOF: No

 

lester hayes

Lester Hayes:

When Hayes came out of college, many said he wasn’t very smart.  What the Raiders found out is that he had a stuttering problem.  Now Hayes will speak to anyone that will listen while showing a great personality.

Hayes was a pro bowler 5 times; all pro once; AFC player of the year once; single season record for interceptions in a year (13), and named to the prestigious all decade team for 1980.

It’s not even worth talking about; just like Branch and Tatum, of course Lester should be in.  I feel embarrassed to even defend it.  Eventually he will be but again, it’s a joke for him to wait so long.

Deserves to be in the HOF: Yes

Will be Voted into HOF: Eventually

 

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“The Greatest Defensive Backfield of all time! The Oakland Raiders Soul Patrol”

soul patrolf

There will never be a defensive backfield like the Oakland Raiders Soul Patrol of the 1970’s ever again.  They were the most intimidating and greatest group of all time.

The 70’s will always be remembered as the greatest era for the NFL.  It’s the era when there were many great teams and great quarterbacks.  Without a salary cap some backups on the great teams could start elsewhere.  Defenses could do as they please with little to no protection for QB’s and WR’s.  Television helped make the Superbowl become a must see event.  Teams like the Raiders, Steelers, Dolphins, Chiefs, Cowboys and Vikings made this a decade of excellence.  The Steel Curtain, the No Name Defense, Doomsday, and the Purple People Eaters are all revered names in NFL lore.  When the Steelers met the Raiders in the mid 70’s, there were no less than 22 hall of fame coaches, owners, and players on the field at one time.  That will never happen again.

“There was nothing like them”, said HOF QB Fran Tarkenton about the Soul Patrol in a KNBR radio interview.  “In 1979 the NFL created the 5 yard chuck rule because of Atkinson, Tatum, Brown, Thomas and the Raiders.  Wide Receivers could not get off the line of scrimmage against them.  Atkinson and Tatum and the rest of the gang were so physical and strong that I’d have to wait and hope my guys could get open before I got killed”.

The wide receivers of the 70’s never get their due because their numbers weren’t the pinball numbers of today.  In today’s NFL, if you exhale near a receiver it is a penalty.  In the 1970’s it was literally survival of the fittest.  They had to worry about the great physical play of the era and you could not be a wide receiver unless you could go over the middle. I’ve seen pass interference penalties in today’s game where a defensive back literally brushed by a player.  The rules are so comical now that records are being broken almost weekly.  The 70’s on the other hand was an extremely brutal and tough era, and the most talented and toughest defensive backfield of them all was the Soul Patrol in Oakland.

Oakland the King of Professional Sports:

The center of the sporting world in the 70’s was Oakland California.  In 1975 a team lead by superstar Rick Barry silenced all the east coast and their writers by sweeping the Washington Bullets for the NBA title after writers practically laughed at their chances.  The Oakland A’s dynasty had an amazing 3 straight World Series Championships beating national league royalty in the Dodgers, Reds, and NY Mets.  And then oh by the way, for a 25 year stretch the Raiders were the winningest team in all of US sports with several division titles, and 3 superbowl wins.  No city ever had so many titles in such a short time.

The Soul Patrol embodied what the Oakland Raiders were all about.  They were tough, borderline dirty, intimidating and extremely confident.  Each member played their role in a defense that still today is revered.

atkinson4

George Atkinson Jr.:  (“Butch” 6’ 0”; 180 lbs.)

There may have never been a tougher Raider than George Atkinson.  Listed as 6 feet 1 inch tall, many say it was more like 5’ 11” but no one had the guts to tell him that.

Atkinson was an intimidator that roamed the field like a lion ready to pounce.  He was the trash talker of the group often seen taunting and intimidating players that were much bigger than he was.  He once broke Russ Francis nose with a vicious forearm hit, and his hits against Lynn Swann of the Steelers are a part of NFL history.  He had blazing speed and in fact still holds the single game record for punt return yardage for the Raiders at 205 yards.

Atkinson took it very personally when someone tried to block him low.  He learned from Tatum to go after a Wide Receiver if they tried to hit their knees or ankles.  In some films you can actually see Raiders defensive backs going towards blockers to actually hit them after they tried to hit them low.  All time great Paul Warfield once said when you went over the middle against Oakland and didn’t account for Tatum and Atkinson, you would not be in the game long without being carried off the field.  Against the run, he could go through blockers and make amazingly hard tackles.  If you ran wide against the Raiders, their DB’s would make you pay.  Atkinson loved to make players pay.

willie brown

Willie Brown:  (6’ 1”; 195 lbs.)

Amazingly Hall of Famer Willie Brown was never drafted when he graduated from Grambling St.  He was signed by the Buffalo Bills who cut him and then he was picked up by the Denver Broncos.  He soon became an all star but was traded to the Raiders in 1967 where he played for the rest of his career.  Unlike the other 3 members of the soul patrol, Brown was fast, graceful and laid back.  He wasn’t a talker but a great defender who was a shut down corner. He had good size and played the run very well, but he was a master of the bump and run man to man game that the Raiders loved so much.  His famous interception in the Superbowl with the great announcer Bill King’s call of old man Willie is as famous as any highlight NFL films has.

skip thomas

Skip Thomas CB (Dr. Death; 6’ 1”; 205 lb.):

In a day when cornerbacks were just as important in attacking the run as they did the pass, Skip “Dr. Death” Thomas role was to make everyone that came near him remember that he hit them.  What is funny is he was nicknamed Dr. Death by Raiders great Bob Brown who said Skip Thomas looked like the cartoon character Dr. Death.

Skip Thomas was a vicious tackler who was the king of the clothesline tackle.  Many times his padded arm was seen knocking the ball out of wide receivers hands.  When he hit people, sometimes he would actually launch his whole body and his arm swung like a Russian sickle.  It was intimidating, violent and sent the message to not come his way.  He had a two year stretch of 6 interceptions per year.  Due to the great talent of Willie Brown, teams would try to pick on Skip Thomas and usually the results were not good.

People forget that in the Super Bowl, Minnesota moved their fine wide receiver Sammy White around so that Thomas mostly guarded him in the first half.  White didn’t  catch a pass in the first half and Thomas was on him like glue.  As the great Raiders announcer Bill King once said, “the Raiders have 3 safeties when Dr. Death was playing cornerback”.

Sadly and ironically he passed away too soon in 2011 also at the age of 61, but he will always be remembered for his talent, toughness and personality as one of the great members of the Soul Patrol.

jack tatum

Jack Tatum Safety (Assassin; 5’ 10”, 205 lb.):

If Atkinson was the voice of the Soul Patrol, Tatum was the heart.  Ronnie Lott called him his inspiration and the standard bearer for all NFL safeties.  John Clayton said there was never a harder hitting safety in the NFL.  Once during the Super Bowl break, the NFL Show with Cris Collinsworth and Chris Berman were discussing players that should be in the Hall of Fame, and to a man they all said the same name; Jack Tatum.

He may have been the most intimidating force in NFL history this side of Dick Butkus. John Madden said many times he was mentally saddled with the hit on Darryl Stingley which paralyzed Stingley for the rest of his life.  Many close to Tatum said he really never got over it up to his death in 2010 at the age of 61 due to complications from diabetes.

Earl Campbell said no one ever hit him harder than his touchdown run where he and Tatum hit head on.  Vikings quarterback Fran Tarkenton said he thought Tatum knocked Sammy White’s head off in the Superbowl hit that Tatum laid on him when the Raiders dominated the Minnesota Vikings.  Even his counterpart George Atkinson said once, “he hit a tough Denver TE Riley Odoms so hard it sounded like a gun shot.  Odoms was in agony and his eyes rolled back.  I thought he had killed him”.

I remember a story that Ahmad Rashad told.  He said that days before the Vikings were to play the Raiders in the Superbowl, Tatum had walked into a room where the Vikings were relaxing and playing cards.  Tatum walked into the room and into the closet and just stood there for a couple of minutes.  He then walked out of the closet and left.  Rashad said that not one Viking laughed or said a word until they saw Tatum walking out of the building.  Rashad said that it was a mind game of intimidation and he said it worked.  He said, “we laughed; we just made sure Tatum couldn’t hear us”.

Tatum was a linebacker playing safety.  He also was dominating against the run and would take on guards and tackles at any given notice.  Many game films show Tatum chasing blockers trying to hit them before the blockers would try to block him.  Tatum was vicious, fearless and ready to hit anyone.  He epitomized the great physical play of the day, and what the Raiders defense always tried to do; stop the run and make the quarterback go down, and go down hard. With a good pass rush, the Raiders defense was hard to beat as was seen in their dominance.  I would like to do an in depth article just on Jack alone in the future.

Jim’s Jamz:

With today’s rules there will never be hits and aggressive play like the Soul Patrol did.  Quarterbacks and Wide Receivers pretty much do as they please and the Soul Patrol would not be allowed to do what they did best; intimidate, make plays, and be legends.  In the most physical era, the Soul Patrol was like a pack of wolves ready to take down any sized prey.  They remain the greatest defensive backfield of all time.