Las Vegas Raiders: The franchise’s all-time team
By John Buhler
Las Vegas Raiders all-time team: Safeties
Safety Jack Tatum was one of the most ferocious hitters of his time. The former standout at Ohio State was enshrined in the College Football Hall of Fame and had a great 10-year NFL career mostly with the Raiders. Tatum was known as The Assassin for how hard he hit.
In nine years with the Raiders from 1971 to 1979, Tatum was a three-time Pro Bowler from 1973 to 1976, playing free safety on the 1976 Super Bowl Championship team in Oakland. Two of Tatum’s punishing hits are part of the history of football: his collision on John Fuqua on the Immaculate Reception and his hit on Darryl Stringley which left the Patriots wide receiver paralyzed. For better or worse, Tatum hit harder than most people on the gridiron in the 1970s.
If hard hits from Tatum weren’t enough, we had to put the most versatile defensive back in Raiders history in the middle of its defense. While Charles Woodson is a first-ballot Hall of Famer in 2021 mostly as a cornerback with Oakland and the Green Bay Packers, he did spend some time at safety later in his career.
Woodson won the 1997 Heisman Trophy with the Michigan Wolverines as the only primary defensive player to do so. He spent his first eight NFL seasons and his last three with the Raiders before retiring in 2015. Woodson made five Pro Bowls and one All-Pro while he was with the Raiders. He was a Pro Bowler at 22 and 39 at two different positions. That’s all you need to know about how great he was as a defensive back.
Honorable mentions: George Atkinson (1968-77), Vann McElroy (1982-90)