Up, Down, Left, Right: Perspectives of Jim Otto Are Always Good

Honor Warren Wells TheTorch@dbintayaelSenior Writer IIFebruary 21, 2010

LOS ANGELES - NOVEMBER 11:  Hall of Famer and former Raiders center, Jim Otto, attends a game between the Green Bay Packers and the Los Angeles Raiders at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on November 11, 1990 in Los Angeles, California.  The Packers won 29-16.  (Photo by George Rose/Getty Images)
George Rose/Getty Images

How many people can say that their name is a representation of their life in some way? Let’s look at Jim Otto’s last name: OTTO.

If you read his name from left to right, it spells OTTO. It is a palindrome so if you read it from right to left it still spells OTTO.

If you reflect (flip) the name with respect to the x axis, it still spells OTTO. And, if you flip the name in the vertical direction, or y axis, it still spells OTTO.

Well, John Madden’s Foreword in the book, The Pain of Glory, written by Otto and Dave Newhouse, says something similar.

Madden says of Otto, “His skills as a center were just perfect.”

Otto had the quality of “symmetry.” In a basic math class if a = b, then b = a.

Similarly, it is said of Otto, “He was a big part of the Raiders, and they were a big part of him."  Don't you see the symmetry in that statement!

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He was an example of a valid converse, too. Again, in basic logic, if p implies q, then you can consider q implies p.

For Otto, the application is that the game gave to Otto, and Otto always gave back.

How did Otto give back? He would appear at Rotary or Kiwanis luncheons, and he was always one of the first to volunteer, says Madden.

Otto played the position of center, and he was "centered." The word “centered” means:

Self-confident, goal-oriented, and well-balanced

Madden said, “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.'”

Madden continued, “Jim was the Oakland Raiders center, and he wasn’t going to give up his spot."

A man of remarkable technical skill, he is hailed as the greatest “snapper.” Charlie Sumner told Madden, "Otto would snap the ball, and the laces always would be in front, away from the placekicker, who would then kick only leather."

The position of the ball at the point of contact of the kick would be optimal since the force would hit the ball in a spot with a uniform surface area.

I guess you can say that Otto somehow understood the physics and mathematics of his position as center.

What do you think Otto’s response was when asked that considering the damage done to his body, would he do it all over again? His answer is:

“Today, Otto is handicapped, but he says he wouldn't change a thing if given the opportunity to do it over again.”

So, even if you use foresight or hindsight, you see a lot of very good things about the contributions and life of the great senior player, Jim Otto, who was remarkably "centered" in not only football, but in life, too.


Jim Otto has had 40 surgeries. Of those, 28 were knee operations. Nine of those operations were during his playing career. He has had multiple joint replacements. He has debilitating back and neck problems.

On August 1, 2007, nearly three years ago, Otto lost the vertical symmetry of his body. His right leg was amputated.

In 1997, Jennifer, his daughter, died from a blood clot.

Otto had a bout with prostate cancer, although when last reported, it is in remission. He played 15 years with the Oakland Raiders.

We salute and honor the accomplishments and life of Jim Otto.

He was in the Class of 1980, Professional Football Hall of Fame, in Canton, Ohio. He is 72 years old.


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