- Bill Williamson, ESPN Staff Writer
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The AFC West story of the week was a sad one.
The passing of former Oakland Raiders great safety Jack Tatum got the respect it deserved. It was a shut-out winner. Tatum died this week at the age of 62. He was one of the most feared hitters in NFL history and he was a face of the swaggering Raiders in the 1970s.
The other story candidates were Denver star linebacker Elvis Dumervil signing a huge six-year extension and Denver legend John Elway deciding to attend some of Denver’s camp. He wants to become a part owner of the team. These are two strong stories and in a normal week, the Dumervil story would be a runaway winner.
But Tatum was a legend in the AFC West. His death was clearly felt by fans in the division. Below are some of your responses. Thanks to everyone who participated:
Joel from Richmond, Calif.: I think the AFC West Storyline of the week should be about the Raider Great and Controversial figure that was Jack "the Assassin" Tatum.
Bo Evans from D.C.: Has to be the loss of Jack Tatum, "The Assassin" will be sorely missed by the Raider Nation. His destructive hit on Darryl Stingley is the only thing keep him out of the HOF. "I understand why Darryl is considered the victim. But I'll never understand why some people look at me as the villain." This quote says it all...
Brandon from Minnesapolis, Minn.: Even though I'm a Broncos fan, the You pick it: AFC West storyline has to be Jack Tatum's passing. He played the game at a high level and should not be soley defined by the hit on Stingley.
Kevin from San Jose: If you were to ask somebody with knowledge of the Raiders who was the face of this team in its history you would get Al Davis. If you asked who among the players, you get get Jack Tatum. Yes, Jack Tatum represents the spirit of the Raiders more than any other player to set foot with the Silver and Black. His death at 61 has struck members of the Raider Nation hard, including myself. Jack Tatum will always bring back the great memories of the olden Raiders and will be truly missed. The story of the week should be dedicated to him. Rest in Peace Jack Tatum.
Gabriel M. from Kansas City: The story has to be,"The Assassin" death. Jack Tatum had a major role in the Raiders being da Raiders. Its a shame how time goes by so fast. Jack Tatum will always be remembered as one of the greatest Raiders players ever.
Doug from Natucket, Mass.: Unfortunately the story is the passing of Jack Tatum. Any receiver who ventured into his territory was met with a vicious hit, he played the game the way it was meant to be played with 100% passion, dedication and violence, even as an "Official Raider Hater:"he had my respect. And should serve as a role model for any young safeties, the field is yours, not theirs.
Joseph Budd from Rapid City, S.D.: This week, it's not much of a choice. Jack Tatum dies, and the Raider Nation is in mourning, due to the loss of a great football player. What news that does leak out, also shows a side of him that the media didn't cover very well, from his work in Ohio with diabetes, to his attempt at trying to meet with Daryl Stingley, only to have the family turn him away. People sign, people go to camp. Legends passing, just doesn't happen...with one of Tatum's caliber...it's a shock.
DJ Mbenga from Golden State: As a Raiders fan in my mid-20s, I never had the honor of watching Jack Tatum play live in person, but from watching film of him on NFL network and listening to people that actually did watch him during his playing years, I've learned that he represented an era in Raiders football that could be classified as the franchise's glory years. That mean, hard-hitting brand of football brought by Tatum, among others on the Raiders at that time, has remained part of the Raider mystique, but the franchise really hasn't measured up to that label in recent years. I think it's definitely something we'd like to get back to. Tyvon Branch and Mike Mitchell can both hit like freight trains, and the McClain pick demonstrates a desire for a beast in the middle of the field. Although most everyone on the team was too young to have seen Tatum play, I believe his passing will motivate the Raiders defense to be more physical, aggressive, and downright mean this season and into the future. RIP Mr. Tatum!
Cody from Fort Collins, Colo.: Partial to the Broncos news. Good sign with Doom! Love to see Elway as part owner of the team he made. But Jack Tatum passing has to be the news of the week. Jack Tatum is synonymous with Raider football. Even a child born in the 80's (me) hears the name and knows exactly how the guy played the game and who he played for. He was a Raider to the bone.
2dEric D. Williams