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Tatum commented only in a pro forma statement released by the Raiders: “I am deeply saddened by the death of Darryl Stingley. … My thoughts and prayers go out to his family.”

Before the injury, Stingley appeared poised to become one of the league’s premier wideouts. He caught 39 passes for an average gain of 16.8 yards and five touchdowns in 1977, impressive numbers at the time. Later, despite his physical handicaps, he worked as a consultant with the Patriots, visited frequently with paralyzed patients and established a foundation in Chicago to benefit inner-city youths.

“I have relived that moment over and over,” he told the Associated Press in 1988. “I was 26 years old at the time, and I remember thinking, ‘What’s going to happen to me?’ It was only after I stopped asking why that I was able to regroup and go on with my life.”

All these years later, it is impossible to determine whether Tatum or merely fate was responsible for Stingley’s catastrophic injury and early death. After all, football is an incredibly savage sport, particularly at the NFL level, and the wonder is that tragedy doesn’t strike more often.

But if we’re looking to evaluate the nature and character of the two men involved, perhaps we should consider their literary efforts.

Darryl Stingley wrote a book called “Happy to Be Alive.”

Jack Tatum wrote three books — each with the word “Assassin” in the title.