They saw it all: Jim Otto


Bored Historian
Aug 26, 2011
JIM OTTO (born January 5, 1938) 6-2 255 center
But when I think of the guys who “saw it all” in the old AFL, the guy I think of is “Old Double Oh” of the Oakland Raiders, Jim Otto. Firstly, like so many of the AFL players, the NFL showed no interest when he came of college, (U of Miami) as an under-sized center, (6-2 227: he eventually built himself up into a 255 pounder, more than adequate for that era). They didn’t even draft him. Secondly he wound up an Oakland Raider in the days when they were playing on a high school field and going 2-12 and 1-13 before Al Davis took over the club. Yet he also wound up playing on the best team in the league, (13-1, 12-2 and 12-1-1 in 1967-69). Then, with the merger, he became and NFL football player. He wound up playing until 1974, just a couple of years short of the Raiders’ first Super Bowl win. Finally, he was a center, literally in the middle of the action, anonymous except for his ‘00’ number.

He eventually endured an amazing 74 operations, 28 on his knees, (9 of which came during his playing career). Wikipedia: “His joints became riddled with arthritis, and he developed debilitating back and neck problems. In his book, "The Pain of Glory" Otto described near death experiences from medical procedures, including fighting off three life-threatening infections due to complications from his artificial joints. During one six-month stretch, he was without a right knee joint because he had to wait for an infection to heal before another artificial knee could be implanted. Otto eventually had to have his right leg amputated on August 1, 2007. Despite his maladies, Otto says he has no regrets and wouldn't change a thing even if given the opportunity to do it over again.”

When he retired, he was the last member of the 1960 Raiders still playing. Only George Blanda, a long-time teammate on the Raiders, was still playing after having played in the AFL’s inaugural season. Jim was a 9 time AFL all-star and then played in three Pro bowls once he finally entered the NFL. He was a first ballot pro football Hall of Famer. He played in 210 consecutive games: each Raider play for 15 years began with the ball in Jim Otto’s hands.

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