A more dangerous era
Tatum's cheap shot on Stingley common at that time
Posted: Thursday April 5, 2007 3:36PM; Updated: Tuesday April 10, 2007 2:45PM
Alfred L. of Santa Monica, Calif., asks a question that echoes many others coming in after the death of paralyzed wide receiver Darryl Stingley: Was the Jack Tatum hit that ended his career illegal?
Possibly, within the narrow boundaries of the rules as they existed in those days. But to my way of thinking, it was illegal. That was the era in which coaches at levels, pee wee on up, told their guys to "put a hat on him." They hit with their helmets. Safety factors, and the ensuing rules, since have negated that kind of football, although there are still people who teach it. But in those days players used the helmet to punish each other, and along with that philosophy went the desire to inflict maximum punishment on anyone in an unprotected or vulnerable position on the field. Which played right into Tatum's style.
I saw the Patriots-Raiders game live. I saw replays of the play countless times. I don't believe that the tackle that took Stingley down was the hit that did the damage. I think it came when he was on the ground, or just about to hit it. That's when Tatum drilled him and he was paralyzed. An awful, vicious hit, but not uncommon in those days -- particularly by Tatum, generally conceded to be the hardest hitter of his era.
Tatum never tried to speak to Stingley thereafter. He wrote a book, They Call Me Assassin, cashing in on the play. The idea of it gave me the creeps, but after all, when a guard dog is trained to kill, that's what it does, without remorse. The people toward whom I feel real animosity are the ones who actually went out and bought that book.
Anthony of Tauranga, New Zealand, wonders why left-handed pitchers make it to the Hall of Fame, but left-handed quarterbacks seem unwelcome. In baseball, left-handed batters have an advantage because they are closer to first base. Which means that left-handed pitchers are desirable, since they have an advantage over left-handed hitters. None of that applies to football, where southpaw passers actually are at a disadvantage, since some receivers find it harder to adjust to a ball coming at them with a different spin on it, from a different direction. OK, Mr. A, now that I've answered your question, please see if you can talk to the N.Z. immigration authorities on the Redhead's and my behalf and ask them to reconsider our case in 2008, if a certain political party manages to retain national control here in the USA.
Adrian of Newport News, Va., feels that the Chiefs might have given up on Trent Green a little too soon. I think their whole passing game needs an injection of adrenalin. Last year K.C. was a running team with only one big-league receiver, Tony Gonzalez, and there were games in which even he was kept in to help as a blocker. Green was a 36-year-old QB playing behind a line with perhaps the worst combination of pass-blocking tackles in the league ... the guy on the left side is someone I classify as a WGSK lineman. Will Get Somebody Killed. Maybe Green has something left, maybe not, but you'll never find out in a setup like K.C.'s.
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