News

Jim Otto, Hall of Fame Raiders Center, Is Dead at 86

Jim Otto, who played center for 15 years for the Oakland Raiders and underwent more than 70 football-related operations, including the amputation of his right leg, has died. He was 86.

The Raiders (now the Las Vegas Raiders) announced his death on Sunday. The announcement did not say where or when he died or cite a cause.

Otto was an original Raider. He played for the team during its American Football League days, from 1960 to 1969, and then in the National Football League from 1970-74, following the merger of the two leagues. He started 210 consecutive games, was voted to the A.F.L. all-star team in each of its 10 seasons, and helped the Raiders win seven division championships. In 1980, the first year he was eligible, he was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Despite all that, he was remembered less for enduring than for suffering.

The early days of his retirement were captured poignantly in a 1985 documentary, “Disposable Heroes: The Other Side of Football,” directed by Bill Couturié, which focused on Otto and another ex-player, Roger Stillwell, who had been a defensive lineman with the Chicago Bears.

In that film, Otto offered a list of injuries that seemed more appropriate for a whole battalion in an army than for a single man. There were about 30 concussions, about 25 broken noses, a broken jaw, teeth kicked out, a detached retina, two cauliflower ears from getting kicked in the side of the head, several broken ribs, torn muscles, groin pulls, sprained ankles, a detached and torn diaphragm, two broken kneecaps, 150 facial stitches and arthritis in virtually all his joints. He once experienced amnesia so severe, he said, that he looked at his wife and thought, Who is she?

“You could always recognize him because he was always bleeding,” Gene Upshaw, his teammate on the Raiders’ offensive line and later the president of the players union, said in the documentary. “He had blood all over his face. His nose was always cut, his fingers were always twisted.”

Related Articles

Back to top button