Honor the Heroes of the Game, Preserve Its History, Promote Its Values & Celebrate Excellence Everywhere
"Football as a team game demands sacrifice and discipline. You’ve got to think of the guy playing next to you and try to help him. To do that you have to sacrifice."
(Miami - Florida)...6'2'', 255...James Edwin Otto. . .Anchored Raiders' offensive line for 15 years. . . Noted for pride, dedication, leadership, intelligence . . .Sure-handed ball-snapper, superior blocker with wide range. . .Overcame numerous injuries to play 308 games, including six AFL/AFC title games, Super Bowl II, 12-all-star contests. . .Named all-league 12 straight years, 1960-1971, second-team All-NFL, 1972. . .AFL's only all-league center. . . Named to all-time AFL team, 1969. . .Also All-AFC in 1970, 1971, 1972. . .Born January 5, 1938, in Wausau, Wisconsin.
Some people say that playing on the offensive line has no glory. But it’s difficult to imagine any one player dominating the honors at one position more completely than Jim Otto did both in the American Football League and in the National Football League from 1960 through 1974.
The Wausau, Wisconsin, native joined the newly founded Oakland Raiders in 1960 and, for the next 15 seasons, he was the only starting center the Raiders ever had. He was one of only three players who saw action in each of his team’s 140 regular season games over the AFL’s ten-year history, and he played with such skill that in its entire history, the AFL never had another all-league center.
Otto, who starred as a center and linebacker at the University of Miami in Florida, won All-AFL acclaim 10 straight seasons. He was All-NFL in 1970 and 1971, and then earned second-team All-NFL honors in 1972. Not surprisingly, he was named to the all-time All-AFL team following the 1969 season.
During his 15-year career, he participated in each of the nine AFL All-Star games that were played and in the AFC-NFC Pro Bowl the first three seasons that postseason classic was scheduled. Jim never missed a game. When he retired following the 1974 season, he had started in 210 straight games in regular season but had played in 308 games as a Raider.
During that period, the Raiders, who had once been AFL doormats, rose to prominence. Oakland won seven divisional championships in an eight-year period from 1967 through 1974. The 1967 Raiders became AFL champions and played against the NFL’s Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II. Throughout this time span, Otto was a tower of strength as the anchor of the Raiders' talented offensive line.
Jim Otto Enshrinement Speech 1980
Presenter: Al Davis
Thank you very much. For two memorable decades the last 20 years be open Raiders have had the greatest players the greatest coaches, the greatest plays and performed the greatest games ever played in the annals of sports. 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 Flores, Lamonica, the legendary Blanda , 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 00. 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.
He played in every one of the nine American Football League All-Star games and in the first AFC- NFC Pro Bowl games. He had played an started in 308 games as a Raider. This long reign included 17 preseason contest, 210 regular season games, 13 postseason games and 12 All-Star contests. Commitment to excellent, 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 was the most honored offense alignment in the history of professional football. But statistically are just a measure of accomplishment, not really the measure of man. If it is true that great men inspire others the will to be great, that alone qualifies Jim to be a great man. He had tower encourage in spite of his first injuries, his loyalty, devotion and dedication, still carry on in Oakland an reached the rewards victory. While the word “company man” has a bad and good connotation, Jim Otoo was an organization man. He played football for the organization, he wanted to win for the organization. Plain old-fashioned wholesomeness was not passed. He was an organization dream.
The enshrinement here in Canton of Jim Otto is like a reaffirmation of the values and virtues of what is still the American way of life. Religion, family, and country as he preferred them in that order and the virtues and the fires that burned brightest in him for the great love and enthusiasm he had and has for the game of football and for everyone and everything in life. He loved the AFL of which he was find original and some of the legendary heroes of that greatly, Lamar hunt, John Madden, Ben Davidson to name a few are here today. He loved the Oakland Raiders and he loved the game of football, but the important thing was he established all of them too a degree never surpassed. I love to come here to the Hall, I have done it many times, and walked through the exhibits to pay tribute to the great men whom we idolized as youngsters and we still idolize today, included in this great class Adderley, Jones, Lilly and Otto. I would sign them all today if I could. And we share in their glory it brings a realization and I have said this many time of a debt we owe to them and a firm resolution that we will never forget that debt.
Jim Otto, the caisson Have stopped rolling, the cannons are still, the playing field is quiet, the crowd no longer worries, the silver and black uniform is retired but I can still faintly hear the national anthem and those of us who saw the rattles and the Raiders battle to the top during the last decades, will never forget you and now no one Alice will forget you because the name of Jim Otto will it rain down the corridors of remember times as long as this Hall of Fame mortal eyes is the greatest Warriors of the greatest game period my friend someone that I will always love, someone who has been a vital part in my life and I will always hope I have been a vital part of his, my friend, Jim Otto, Hall of Famer.
There is really one person I have to thank and that is the good Lord, I have praised him and blessed him. It started with a dream and it wasn't an unconscious dream, it was a Daydream. It started when I was about 11 years old and part of that dream is coming to an end today, but the rest of the dream will go on. Daydreams are the best because you can always remember them, and you can work on a Daydream to make it come true. My favorite day dream was that I was going to be a professional football player someday and it was at the age of 11 while listening to a football game on the radio that I told my Gran father that someday I was going to be a professional football player period and it wasn't long until that day began. Not all dreams come true, it takes a lot of dedication alot of pride and above all a lot of faith and prayer. And I thank and praise God for the help he gave me for putting the right people in the right place before me.
For without these people my dream would not have come true. By four years in high school with tough. It was at this time that certain people became a big part in making my dream come true. My parents who are here today, were great part of that. They gave me a lot of support and help and we're always there when I needed them. By minister, pastor Gredimen back in Warsaw Wisconsin was a big help in getting me going as a youngster. back in those days’ things were hard, but it wasn't too much money and at one time I started getting cards from the YMCA giving me a membership. I never know who paid that membership until I was 34 years old when I went home to Warsaw for a visit to speak at the high school dinner and pastor Gredimen was there to give the invocation. It was at that time, he told me, James when you went to school he said there was a bit of shyster and it had to come out and I knew the only way to get it out was to send you to the YMCA and he was the one who gave me the membership to the YMCA all those years, so I have to thank him.
So, you can see God put these people out there for me so I could be guided properly. There was another man who played an important role in my life and that was Tom Yellish was a schoolteacher in Warsaw, Wisconsin and he was my first Little League coach at the age of 12. He later became my offensive line coach and in high school and he was the best teacher of line fundamentals that I have ever seen and also my high school coach Winn Brockmeir who sent Elroy Crazy legs Hirsch here a few years back. Winn passed Away just a few months ago as he would be here with us today and I really miss him. He was a great builder of character and had some super records second to none and very compatible with teams in the Masillon area.
There were all those great people available to me. In college there was Andy Guthason, Walt Chacheske, Stich Berry And there's and as the years passed a little bit more of dream was to come true. I was passed up by the NFL in the draft in 1959, it was December 1959, but lucky for me the AFL was being formed. People like Lamar Hunt, Wilson, Wayne Valley, people like that were forming a League, giving some of us scholars an opportunity to play and it was at that time I got my shot. But the first three years in the AFL was more of a nightmare of a dream than my dream come true. For it was during that time, probably I know the best thing that could have happened to me happened, and that was when I married my beautiful wife, Sally and I think she pulled me out of that nightmare, because without her I think my dream might have fizzled and I love her for understanding the patience for all these years in football and all the problems I may have caused in our home. Not only was her· patience and understanding great but also those of our children. There are times when a father becomes impatient during the football season, but Jennifer arid Jimmy were always there and they always put up with their dad and I am very proud of my daughter Jennifer, she is going to make me a grandfather soon and her husband, Glenn Callihan, we are very proud of those people and also my son, Jimmy. I am looking forward to him with a lot of pride because I can’t wait to watch him grow and achieve in sports and he is just an outstanding person in school as well and it just makes me very proud to have him here.
In 1963 things began to change and my dream was alive again and I thank God for bringing the right people into my dream again. At that time a young man was to become the head coach and general manager of the open Raiders and guide me where I am standing today, and that man is Al Davis. He sold me on the Raiders, not only that he sold me on myself. He along with Ollie Spencer as my line coach, John Madden as my head coach kept me motivated to playing some of the most exciting football games ever played in the National Football League. The great come from behind wins. the food plays for us some of the flute plays for the other teams, will you remember some of those game, I don't have to tell you about those, they were a great part in making my dreams come true.
The dream must go on now, but only to my other plans and that is to help my fellow man in some way and to safe my own sole and I am going to do that with the help of God. To all the many people I mentioned, the selection committee Pete Elliott, Don Smith, John Bankert, Mr. Schreiber and the board of trustees, my family and I thank you from the bottom of our hearts and God Bless you all.