Double-zero was Oakland hero: Jim Otto, 86, was ‘The Original Raider’ with unusual jersey

Jim Otto appears in an image from video wearing his famous "00" jersey as a member of the Oakland Raiders. Otto, who went on to play in a Super Bowl and be enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, died Sunday at 86. (Framegrab via NFL Films/YouTube)

The Bay Area has lost an icon of its sports community with the passing this weekend of Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Otto, whose death at 86 was announced on social media.

The Raiders, his former NFL team who moved from Oakland to Las Vegas in 2020, made the announcement Sunday.

Otto, recognized for the rare “00” he wore on his jersey, played as a center with the Oakland Raiders of the American Football League (AFL) and the NFL for 15 seasons between 1960 through 1974. Known as “The Original Raider,” he won an AFL championship with the Raiders in 1967, played in the team’s first Super Bowl appearance in 1968, and went on to be named an AFL All-Star nine times.

In 1970, the year when AFL merged with the NFL, he was included among the first Pro Bowlers.

In 2019, he was on the NFL 100th Anniversary All-Time Team, being honored as among the greatest players of the league.

Jim Otto was ranked number 63 among the NFL’s Top 100 Greatest Players. A video on him can be viewed HERE via YouTube. (NFL Films/YouTube)

An article about Otto on the Wikipedia website described the origins of his famous 00. He originally wore number 50 in his rookie season, but changed it after equipment manager Frank Hinek suggested it would gain him more recognition. Otto had long had the nickname “Ott,” which sounded like aught — or zero. The number 0 was already in use by a player on another team, so Otto instead went with 00 as an alternative and the league approved it.

In an interview with the Sacramento Bee, Otto recalled what it was like playing for a fledgling Raiders squad in 1960, when they won their first preseason game against the New York Titans. “I remember that game and that stadium. That’s when the AFL was trying to get the word out that we had pro football. We were not a very good football team then, but we became a great one. It took time, and then we had the time of our lives.”

Otto found success not just on the field, but in the field — he once owned a walnut orchard as well as Burger King franchises around Auburn and the Sierra foothills, where memorabilia from his playing days were displayed on the walls.

“Jim’s influence on the American Football League and professional football as a whole cannot be overstated. His leadership and tenacity were a hallmark of the dominant Raider teams of the 1960s and 70s, and his ferocious work ethic and talent enabled him to start a remarkable 210 consecutive league games for the Oakland Raiders,” the Raiders said.

Hall of Fame President Jim Porter said Otto’s “legendary reliability” in the sport and the accomplishments he had “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,” Porter said.

Bay City News staff writer Glenn Gehlke contributed to this story.

The post Double-zero was Oakland hero: Jim Otto, 86, was ‘The Original Raider’ with unusual jersey appeared first on Local News Matters.

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