Jim Otto, Hall of Fame center, ‘Mr. Raider,’ dead at 86

Jim Otto

Jim Otto, a Hall of Fame center who played his entire 15-season pro football career with the Oakland Raiders, has died, the team confirmed late Sunday. He was 86.

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Known as “Mr. Raider,” Otto was an original member of the Raiders when the team joined the old American Football League as a charter member in 1960. His cause of death was not revealed.

Until his retirement after the 1974 season, Otto never missed a game, starting 210 consecutive games plus 13 playoff games, ESPN reported. He was selected to the Pro Bowl 10 times and was a first-team All-Pro selection 10 times, according to Pro-Football-Reference.com.

He played through the first 10 seasons of the NFL, started in Super Bowl II and also competed after the AFL-NFL merger in 1970. He was one of only three players, along with George Blanda and Gino Cappelletti, who played in all 140 AFL regular-season games, ESPN reported.

Otto was named the starting center on the AFL’s All-Time team and was named to the NFL’s 100th anniversary team in 2019, the Raiders said in a news release.

Also known as “00″ because of his jersey number and name, Otto was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980 in his first year of eligibility, ESPN reported.

“Jim Otto personified the aura and mystique of the Raiders. He was ‘The Original Raider,’ leading a new franchise from its inception into its first run of glory years from the late 1960s into the 1970s,” Pro Football Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said in a statement. “His legendary reliability -- with 210 consecutive starts in the AFL and NFL -- and the accolades he acquired serve as a testament to his dedication to the organization and the game.

”The Pro Football Hall of Fame will guard his legacy with the same diligence and tenacity that he guarded his teammates.”

Otto underwent more than 50 operations, mostly due to football-related injuries, The Associated Press reported. He had multiple joint replacements, back and neck problems and suffered from arthritis.

“Pain is a state of mind,” Otto once told The Sacramento Bee. “I got used to it. If my nose wasn’t broken during a game, I wondered if I played hard enough. If my helmet didn’t have extra scuff marks, I wondered if I was hitting hard enough.

Otto’s right leg was amputated in 2007 and he had prostate cancer and two major infections after his retirement, according to the AP.

“Playing football was always a serious proposition for me,” Otto said in 2021, according to ESPN. “I wanted to put everyone on their backside and go home smiling, with my wife. So, it was a tough game for me. I had guys like Ray Nitschke. I wanted to get him and put him on his backside. He wanted to do the same to me. We had great times.”

During his career, the Raiders won seven division titles and won the AFL title in 1967.

“Jim was a man whose words and actions epitomized the motto ‘Commitment to Excellence,’” the Raiders said in a statement.

Otto is survived by his wife, Sally; his son, Jim; his daughter-in-law, Leah; and his 14 grandchildren, the Raiders said.

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