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September 21, 2000|LARRY STEWART

What: "Jim Otto: the Pain of Glory"

Author: Jim Otto, with Dave Newhouse

Publisher: Sports Publishing

Price: $22.95

If you think you've had it tough, odds are you've not had it nearly as tough as Jim Otto. The Hall of Fame Oakland Raider center, 61, has had 38 major surgeries, 28 of them on his knees. He's had six artificial right knees and two artificial left knees. He and wife Sally lost their daughter, Jennifer, in November 1999 at 39. She died following a hysterectomy when a blood clot hit her pulmonary artery.

Sally almost died in 1992 when an autoimmune disease attacked her arteries and caused them to rupture. Otto nearly died three times, the most recent in 1998 when his body temperature reached 105.

"I can't imagine another retired football player, or retired athlete in any sport, who has suffered more than I have," Otto says. "And if you include my close scrapes with the Grim Reaper, it's not even a contest."

But this 215-page book Otto wrote with Oakland sportswriter Dave Newhouse is not a downer. The book is more about a religious man who was driven to succeed and became the best center in football.

He never missed a game, playing in 210 consecutive games, all with the Raiders.

"I always understood the risks involved, and accepted them," he says. "It's all about priorities. I'd rather be a disabled Hall of Famer than a healthy, retired scrub."

In the foreword, John Madden, who coached Otto, says: "If someone came from another planet and wanted to know what a football player looked like, you'd show him a poster of Jim Otto."

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