Otto Honored...

Angry Pope

All Raider
Feb 2, 2006
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Otto honored today...

UCD Cancer Center honors Otto today
Festivities start at noon in ARC

Special to The Democrat

The morning of Sept. 13, 2002, Oakland Raiders legend Jim Otto arrived at UC Davis Cancer Center in Sacramento bearing team jerseys and caps for the physicians, nurses and radiation therapists.

They had supported him through his battle against prostate cancer. It was poignant exchange of shirts and hugs.

In the years since, Otto has continued to promote his new team - the doctors, nurses and patients of UC Davis Cancer Center - at every opportunity, using his celebrity, time and talents to raise the institution's visibility regionally and nationally and to lead its Capital and Endowment Initiative.

UC Davis will say thanks today. At noon in Ballroom A of the Activities and Recreation Center, corner of LaRue and Orchard Roads on the Davis campus, Otto will be awarded the UC Davis Foundation's 2006 Charles J. Soderquist Award.

The award recognizes Otto's extraordinary volunteer leadership and support of philanthropy at UC Davis.

"Jim Otto's work to advance the mission and vision of UC Davis Cancer Center is an inspiration to all of us," said Chancellor Larry Vanderhoef. "His contributions to our university and region are impressive, and make him a most worthy recipient of the Charles J. Soderquist Award."

The Charles J. Soderquist Award was established by the trustees of the UC Davis Foundation in 2005 to honor "Charlie" Soderquist for his many contributions to UC Davis. A prominent Sacramento-area entrepreneur, educator and philanthropist, Soderquist was a major UC Davis benefactor and volunteer.

The award comes with a $5,000 prize that the recipient then awards to the UC Davis college, school or campus unit of choice.

Otto plans to turn his prize over to the UC Davis Cancer Center's Capital and Endowment Initiative.

The initiative, the first in the center's history, seeks to raise $35 million for an expansion that will double the size of the Cancer Center and create the university's first endowed chairs in cancer research.

"Through his personal giving, leadership of a major fundraising initiative at the Cancer Center and passion for our vision and mission, Jim has built a legacy that will benefit patients and our region for decades to come," said Claire Pomeroy, vice chancellor for human health sciences and dean of the School of Medicine. Pomeroy nominated Otto for the award.

In addition to serving as volunteer chair of the Capital and Endowment Initiative, Otto has made a personal pledge of $75,000 to the campaign. With his wife, Sally, he has raised another $300,000 by hosting celebrity golf tournaments attended by former teammates like Daryle Lamonica and Otis Sistrunk. He was instrumental in securing the largest single gift in the center's history, a $5 million award from the Oakland-based Wayne and Gladys Valley Foundation.

Otto was a center for the Raiders from 1960 until 1974, starting in 210 consecutive regular-season games, a record that stands to this day.

Against the Green Bay Packers in Super Bowl II in 1968, he played with a case of double pneumonia, a dislocated knee, broken fingers and a broken jaw. He was named All-Pro after playing a full season with every ligament torn in one knee.

In 1980, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Otto's football injuries are fabled. He has undergone 52 major surgeries, including 12 knee and four shoulder replacements; his spine is supported by steel rods. But Otto says none of those health threats shook him like prostate cancer.

"You don't want anyone else to have to go through the agony that comes along with a cancer diagnosis and cancer treatment," Otto said.

"That's why I'm doing this."

Otto hopes the award will serve to demonstrate "that you don't have to be a billionaire to make a difference," and encourage others to support the region's only National Cancer Institute-designated cancer center.

"This award is very, very special to me," he added, "and very humbling."
In 1980, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Otto's football injuries are fabled. He has undergone 52 major surgeries, including 12 knee and four shoulder replacements; his spine is supported by steel rods. But Otto says none of those health threats shook him like prostate cancer.

Man, that's alot of surgeries!! He must really be one tough guy!! :)
An older article on Otto...

He was a charter member of the American Football League, an Oakland Raiders original and the only All-AFL center in the league's 10-year existence. Nobody exhibited more domination of a position over a 15-year stretch than Jim Otto. Despite 10 broken noses and numerous knee operations, Otto always made it on the field, starting in all 210 of his team's regular-season games and 13 postseason contests over 15 years.

Life could have been a lot different for Otto. Undrafted by the NFL after his college career at Miami (Fla.), he was a late-round AFL pick who showed up in 1960 at the Raiders' first camp weighing an unimpressive 205 pounds. But he quickly showed the heart and determination that would propel him to all-star status. By 1961, he had beefed up his 6-2 frame to 255 pounds and attracted attention with overpowering performances against bigger nose tackles and faster linebackers.

Otto, whose star recognition was enhanced by the two big zeroes he wore on his uniform jersey, was an outgoing, easy-to-like charmer whose oversized head (size 8 1/2 helmet) was covered by platinum blond hair. But on the field, he was an old-school competitor who used superior speed and techniques to range well beyond the usual blocking assignments for centers. Described by one opponent as "meaner than a bear and tougher than an old boot," Otto was the leader and signal-caller for an outstanding line that was fortified in the late 1960s by fellow Hall of Famers Art Shell and Gene Upshaw.

Otto's pride and leadership were instrumental in the Raiders' transformation from an AFL doormat into one of pro football's most successful franchises. With him in the middle, they won seven division titles and one AFL championship, losing to Green Bay in Super Bowl II. He also was selected to 12 Pro Bowls.

"Remember those movies in which a guy walks in with his football shoes draped over his shoulder? He spits on his hands, rubs dirt in his palms and says, 'Let's go.' Well, that's Jim Otto."

John Madden 1975
Interesting article AP.....thanks for posting it!! :)
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