Mr. Raider Hall of Fame Member Dies Aged 86

( American football legend Jim Otto died at age 86 from undisclosed causes, the Las Vegas Raiders announced on May 19. Otto played for the then-Oakland Raiders for 15 seasons as a center, ultimately earning him a place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Otto’s impact on professional football in the United States “cannot be overstated,” the Raiders said. Otto was also a key figure in the history of the Raiders, landing him the nickname “Mr. Raider” in honor of the center having performed the first snap in the team’s history and sticking with the franchise for years.

Otto, born in Wisconsin in 1938, played high school and college football before starting in the American Football League in 1960. Otto played for the entirety of the decade-long existence of the league—one of only 20 players to have done so.

The center performed in 223 straight games, never backing out of a match due to injuries. However, Otto received nine knee operations over the course of his football career; in 2007, Otto’s right leg was amputated. Otto ultimately underwent dozens of operations linked to his football career.

Otto retired after the 1974 season. Over the course of his 15-year career, Otto earned the All-Pro honor 10 times. In 2021, Otto said that playing football was a “serious proposition” for him, adding that he always wanted to go home smiling after putting other players on their backs. Otto published an auto-biography, titled “The Pain of Glory,” in 2000.

Otto continued work with the Raiders after his career as a player, including serving as the franchise’s special projects director. Some people have suggested featuring Otto’s face in the Raiders’ logo. Otto backed the idea, but jokingly added that the face would need a broken nose.

Despite the injuries, Otto said that football was the challenge he undertook to prove himself. Otto compared playing football to being a gladiator.

The National Football League said in a tribute to Otto that few people have played center as well as Otto, even decades after his retirement.

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