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5 things about the Raiders’ Ottos

Editor’s note: This is part of an occasional series on the history of the Raiders.

Their shared last name is the most famous palindrome in Raiders history.

Jim Otto was a center and an original Oakland Raider. He played 14 seasons, every one with the Raiders, and was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, the first year he was eligible.

Gus Otto was a linebacker and played for the Raiders from 1965 through ‘72. He wasn’t as great as Jim Otto, but he was good enough to make the American Football League all-star team four times.

Here are five things you oughta know about the Ottos:

1. They were football brothers and kindred spirits but otherwise were not related. Jim, 82, was born in Wausau, Wisconsin, and played college football at Miami of Florida. Gus, 76, was born in St. Louis and played at Missouri.

2. Jim Otto was a three-time Pro Bowl selection, two-time first-team All-Pro, a 10-time AFL all-star and a member of the NFL’s 100th anniversary team. Gus Otto was a four-time All-Pro.

3. Jim Otto wore jersey No. 50 in his and the Raiders’ first season in 1960 before switching to 00. A panel of NFL historians unanimously voted him the best player in history to wear No. 00 in a poll released in January. Gus Otto wore No. 34 and was not among the finalists in that poll, probably because 34 also was Walton Payton’s number. Gus also played offense at Missouri, rushing 127 times for 427 yards and four touchdowns — hence the low jersey number.

4. Because centers do not accumulate statistics in the manner of quarterbacks, running backs and wide receivers, the number most associated with Jim Otto, besides the one he wore on his back, is 74 — the number of surgical procedures he has endured (at last count), including 28 on his knees. His right leg was amputated in 2007. Despite undergoing nine knee operations when he was playing, he never missed a game, playing in 210 consecutively.

5. Gus Otto also overcame a serious health issue, undergoing quadruple heart bypass surgery after his playing days.

Contact Ron Kantowski at rkantowski@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0352. Follow @ronkantowski on Twitter.

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