NAPA, Calif. -- Hall of Fame center Jim Otto recently had
his right leg amputated and is recovering in a hospital in Utah.
Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis made the announcement Wednesday as part of a wide-ranging news conference touching on the state of
the team, the recent death of Bill Walsh and pensions for former
Otto, 69, has had a litany of health problems. He has had
prostate cancer, two major infections that nearly killed him and
approximately 40 operations -- mostly on his banged-up knees from
"It's been, as you know with him, a tremendous fight," Davis
said. "He's lived through it now for three years, day in and day
out. But it finally came. He fought the amputation. He didn't want
it. He fought it. But there was no other thing to do but to
Otto played with the Raiders from 1960-74 and is currently the
team's director of special projects. He organizes reunions for
former players and events for fans in the luxury boxes, and makes
public appearances for the team.
Otto was a member of the original Raiders of 1960. He played in
nine AFL All-Star games and the first three AFC-NFC Pro Bowls.
Davis talked about his relationship with Walsh, who got his
start in professional football as an assistant with the Raiders in
1966. That one season Walsh spent in Oakland helped forge a
friendship with Davis that endured decades of rivalry while Walsh
coached with Cincinnati, San Diego and eventually San Francisco.
Davis spent time at Walsh's house last Saturday, just two days
before his death following a long battle with leukemia.
Davis said he'd like to start an award in Walsh's honor to be
given to quarterbacks in a ceremony held in the Bay Area.
"What he represented to professional football, and what stands
out there today, is just unparalleled, whether it be George Halas
or Paul Brown, whoever it may be," Davis said. "He did a
magnificent job, and we here on the West Coast have to wake up and
realize that not everything happens at the Heisman, the Maxwell
Award, and all these awards, that are given back East to great
contemporaries and great people."
Davis also backed the fight by former players to have increased
pensions and disability payments. In June, a group of former
players testified in Congress about their bouts with multiple
surgeries, dementia and homelessness, all while trying to fight
through the red tape of the National Football League and the NFL
Players Association's disability system.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and players' union head Gene
Upshaw met with nearly a dozen former players last month to discuss
a new joint effort to look into disability pay and health care for
"It's not fair to have the National Football League as someone
who didn't take care of theirs when we should take care of our
own," Davis said. "I strongly believe that."