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Longtime Oakland Raiders center, Hall of Famer Jim Otto dies at 86

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Jim Otto, seen here in 1962, appeared in 210 straight games for the Raiders and was one of just three players who appeared in every single regular season AFL game throughout his career. (By Chris Kjobeck/Oakland Tribune/Getty Images)

Longtime Raiders center and Hall of Famer Jim Otto died on Sunday, the team announced.

He was 86.

Otto, who was one of the last players in the league to wear the No. 00 jersey, spent 15 years as the Raiders’ center in the 1960s and 1970s. The team described him as “the Original Raider.”

“‘00’ was the foundational piece of a transcendent offensive line that not only propelled the Raiders to success on the field but resonated with fans and helped build the Raiders persona and mystique,” the team said in a statement, in part.

Otto spent his entire career with the Raiders, who selected him in the new AFL Draft in 1960 in their first year of existance. He played nonstop for the Raiders throughout his career, and he was one of just three players who played in all 140 possible regular-season AFL games before the league shut down and merged with the NFL. He didn’t miss a single game in his 15 seasons in the league, and appeared in an incredible 210 straight contests before he retired after the 1974 season. Otto won the AFL title in 1967, and he played in six AFL or AFC title games with the team.

“I’ve often looked at being a football player as being a gladiator,” Otto told Bleacher Report in 2009, via ESPN. “There’s something inside of you that says, ‘I want to go out there and prove my worth.’ Most of the time you’re going to get injuries. That’s the life you choose. Some people need a challenge in life and they play hockey or rugby. Football was the way I could prove myself.”

After retiring, Otto spent time working in the Raiders’ front office and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1980, the first year he was eligible. He had a number of health problems after his playing career, too. He had to undergo more than 70 surgeries, per ESPN, and he had his right leg amputated in 2007.

Otto, who was from Wausau, Wisconsin, was a two-way player in college at Miami where he played center and linebacker

“I had always done my best for the Raiders playing center, and it was a very good feeling to know I had accomplished that,” Otto told ESPN in 2019.