Jim Otto likes to watch his grandchildren play football at Teton Valley High School.  The Timberwolves, once known as the Redskins, are among the best programs in the state.  The old man watching from the sidelines used to play ball when he was young.  He joined the Pro Football Hall of Fame in his first year of eligibility.  Today’s kids may not know his history.  For a decade and a half, he was the Oakland Raiders' starting center and rarely missed a play.

Football also took a toll.  The elder Otto has had 70 surgeries, with 28 of those on his knees.  He once had to live without a knee for several months as an infection set in and needed treatment.  In 2007, one of his legs was removed below a knee.  He lives in pain.

When reporters ask him if a career in football was worth the damage to his body, he doesn’t blink when he answers.  Knowing what he does today, he would do it over if he had the chance.

The harsh nature of the game was brought home by the near-death experience of Buffalo’s Damar Hamlin.  It gave the liberals another argument in trying to bring the game to an end.  Football was nearly outlawed in 1905, but today, any attempt to ban the game would fail.  It’s culturally ingrained.

General Douglas MacArthur considered the game to be a necessity for American men.  He called it a combination of chess and warfare.

I’m reminded of a quote from a former college quarterback named Bob Timberlake.  “There’s nothing really wrong with good clean violence,” answered the divinity student when questioned about his passion for the game.  Timberlake entered the ministry after football.

By the way, Jim Otto’s son, also named Jim, is a big strong man and the pastor of Teton Valley Bible Church in Driggs.

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