Saturday, December 7, 2019

IN THE KNOW: Epitome of a Raider

March 19, 2019 by  
Filed under Community

Epitome of a Raider

BY SHERYL THORNTON-BURNHAM

“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.” — Jim Otto

Sheryl Thornton-Burnham

If you ever have the opportunity to be in the stands for a Raiders game, one of the most recognizable sounds you will hear is “Autumn Wind.” Originally a poem by former NFL Films President Steve Sabol, it has become the unofficial theme song of the Raiders.

When you are sitting in the stands for pre-game festivities, Raiders history and nostalgia are inescapable. Thousands cheer as team legends are introduced, the torch is lit in memory of Al Davis, and  “Autumn Wind” blares from the public-address  system. And if the “Autumn Wind” is a Raider, you’d have to give that distinction to none  other than Mr. Double Zero (00) himself, Jim Otto.

Jim Otto was an original Raider — joining the team in its first year, 1960, and wearing  the silver-and-black for his entire career. Otto played for 15 seasons and 308 games — of which 210 were consecutive starts, the most of any Raider in history.

Jim has garnered many accolades, including induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, his first year of eligibility. But his highlights and accolades came with a price: countless surgeries, concussions and infections have taken a toll on this iconic athlete. But to know the myth, you must know the man. Otto is, by all accounts, a gentle giant. He is extremely personable and very approachable; given time, he can share many stories about the glory days.

When I first met Jim Otto, all I could think about was the man on the gridiron, one of the most feared centers in football. Today, he battles health issues — but the love that he has for his wife, Sally, helps keep life in perspective. Seeing them interact proves that there is life after football. Their dedication to each other is worth more than any game, any Super Bowl ring, or Hall of Fame jacket.

Jim will always tell you that, through it all, he would never change a thing. He is a true Raider through and through. Much respect and love to 00.

Once a Raider, always a Raider.

 

 

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