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Reflecting on the life and legacy of 'The Original Raider' Jim Otto

The Raiders and the NFL lost one of the greatest centers to ever lace up cleats when Jim Otto passed on Sunday.

Otto, coined "The Original Raider," was with the team since its American Football League inception in 1960. He spent 15 seasons as the Oakland Raiders' center, never missing a game in his career. The Raiders won seven divisional titles and an AFL League Championship with Otto at center, including the team's first Super Bowl berth following the 1967 season.

He was a member of the NFL 100 All-Time Team and the only all-league center the American Football League ever had. He was the first original Raider to be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, his first year of eligibility.

"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," said Pro Football Hall of Fame President Jim Porter. "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."

In remembrance of the late Hall of Famer, here are a few quotes from some of the people that knew and loved Otto dearly – as a teammate, leader, friend, husband and father.

Al Davis, Hall of Fame introduction for Jim Otto in 1980:

"During the period of 1960 to 1974, the Oakland Raiders had the best record in professional football. Among the greatest players, the quarterbacks during these years, where names like [Tom] Flores, [Daryle] Lamonica, the legendary [George] Blanda, [Ken] Stabler, but there was one constant, one center, one captain, one original Raider who started in each of the 210 consecutive regular-season games during those 15 years. His name was Jim Otto; his number was Double-Zero. For 13 straight years from 1960 he was All-Pro, the only All-Pro center in American Football League history. Followed by three years as the All-Pro center of the American Football Conference following the merger with the NFL.

"Commitment to excellence, pride and poise, the greatness of our football team were not only exemplified by Jim Otto, but for more than a decade he was the standard of excellence by which centers were judged in professional football. He loved the Oakland Raiders, and he loved the game of football, but the important thing was he established all of them to a degree never surpassed."

Jim Otto Jr., son:

"I'm most proud of my dad, not because he was a great athlete, but because of how he has carried himself. I think a high compliment was meeting other Hall of Famers and having them come up to me and say, 'your father was always a statesman – for football and for the Oakland Raiders.'"

Sally Otto, wife:

"Jim's legacy is his love for everyone, because he loves everyone. He loves the Raider fans; he loves his family."

John Madden, Oakland Raiders head coach (1969-1978), Pro Football Hall of Famer:

"His skills as a center were just perfect. He was one of those guys who never wanted to come out of practice. That's the opposite of most starters, who will say, 'Send in the second guy.' Jim was the Oakland Raiders' center, and he wasn't going to give up his spot."

Tom Flores, Oakland Raiders quarterback (1960-1966), assistant coach 1972-1978, head coach 1979-1987, Pro Football Hall of Famer:

"Jim was a unique player, probably the toughest guy I've ever known in my life. ... He's remarkable. I just think remarkable and always there when you need him. Always there when you ask him, if he can. A really great player and a gentleman and just overall, a good guy. But, you know, I'm proud to say he's my friend."

Art Shell, Oakland Raiders offensive tackle (1968-1982), assistant coach 1982-1989, head coach 1989-1994, 2006, Pro Football Hall of Famer:

"Tough, tough as nails. Oh God, he was tough... He was a great leader, and guys just loved him. Jim Otto was Mr. Raider."

Raymond Chester, Oakland Raiders tight end (1970-72, 1978-81):

"Jim Otto is a tough man, a very tough man. But Jim Otto is a tender man. You see that in his relationship with his family, with his kids. Jim Otto is a very special Raider. He has become a symbol of what the Raiders stand for."

Phil Villapiano, Oakland Raiders linebacker (1971-1979):

"Jim Otto was such a great, hard player. After missing a tackle, I would rather go face John Madden than Double-O. ... A warrior, ultimate warrior."

Daryle Lamonica, Oakland Raiders quarterback (1967-1974):

"His durability, his ability to play with pain was something else. My first game with the Raiders, he went down with a neck stinger. It looked like he was out for the year. He was back on the next play. ... You don't see that kind of dedication today. Commitment to excellence was what Jim was about."

Bobby Bell, Kansas City Chiefs linebacker (1963-1974), Pro Football Hall of Famer:

"Jim's the best center I ever played against, bar none. He was a fighter, hard to keep down. The Chiefs-Raiders rivalry was a dogfight on the field, but the two teams were friends off the field. Jim's just a class guy; he's on top of my pyramid. He was a team player."

As we commemorate the life of Jim Otto, Raiders center (1960-1974), Pro Football Hall of Famer, member of the NFL's 100th Anniversary All-Time Team and the Original Raider, take a look back at photos from his time with the Oakland Raiders.

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