Jim Otto dropped a bombshell on the team today by announcing he would play out his option after the season and seek a spot in the NFL next year, according to George Ross of the Tribune. Unsurprisingly, money was at the heart of it. He and the Raiders were “several thousand dollars” apart from an agreement and Otto said he wasn’t “going to budge.” He also said he knew of three NFL teams that would pay him what he was asking for.
Otto, who made $8,000 last year, said he “was disappointed after winning the all-league honor last season. This usually brings a bonus from the club, $500 to $1,000 from some clubs. I got just one thing, a (newspaper) clipping somebody sent me. I want to be able to retire with something when I finish playing. It’s not just the salary, either. It’s a matter of off-season opportunities, too.
“We have a great bunch of guys on this club and this is the best coaching staff I’ve ever played under. But this is, after all, a profession. I had to prove I could make the team last year and after making it, I went out to prove I was the best. I think that’s worth a good raise.”
Bud Hastings, who was also trying to come to an agreement with Tom Louderback, said, “We’re still trying to work the thing out. We’ll talk to him (Otto) in a couple of days.”
Thinning the crew
Raider training camp was in full swing today and a new series of cuts were in. Five men, all of whom where free agent signings during the offseason were placed on waivers: running back Bo Bankston, defensive back Clive Bullian, linebacker Dick Carlsen, defensive back Grover Garvin, and defensive back Ed Whittle. Also, the team finally got in touch with defensive lineman Ramon Armstrong, who told them he was retiring from football to help run his father’s ranch back home in Texas.
Armstrong’s decision left the Raiders short on both lines. Eddie Erdelatz said, “We’ll have to figure on some position changes to strengthen both spots,” and suggested that some prayer wouldn’t hurt, either.
Scotty Stirling’s camp report in the Tribune included news of a “near fight” between Al Bansavage and Bob Coolbaugh, and Tommy Kalmanir’s praise for the work of running backs Oneal Cuttery, Alan Miller, Jetstream Smith, and Tony Teresa. Joe Cannavino, Wayne Crow, and Bob Voight also looked good.
Stirling said Erdelatz was already installing his new defense and that he was pleased at how fast the veterans were catching on. “We are throwing the stuff at them fast,” he said, “and they seem to like the change.”
Linebacker Bob Dougherty concurred, “Coach Erdelatz is doing a lot more coaching with the defense than he did last year and I’m confident we’ll be a lot tougher.”
Team doctors confirmed that tackle Paul Oglesby had suffered a slipped disc in his back and would miss the season.
Guard Wayne Hawkins suffered what the training staff called a “slight muscle pull.” Defensive end Charley Powell also suffered what was termed a “strained muscle in his lower leg.”
In the Jetstream
In his Tribune column today George Ross gave up all the details on fullback James “Jetstream” Smith. Last year, he spent most of the season backing up Billy Lott, but showed a nose for the sticks in the short-yardage game and ripped off a 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown against the Texans.
According to Erdelatz, “Jet came into camp lean and hungry. He’s in better shape and running harder than he was last year at the peak of the season, and he had a couple of games last year when he looked like he could be the best fullback in football.”
Tom Louderback said he “could push Jim Brown for a job right now.”
Despite some fine play last year, Smith said he didn’t always live up to his nickname. “I came into camp last year late, heavy, and with a lot of problems,” he said. “I weighed 220, 225, and that much weight takes the edge off my speed. I just wasn’t quick. Also, it was fullback weight. I got the idea I could run over people. It didn’t work.”
His blocking was improving, too: “I learned more in an hour this week, working with coach Tommy Kalmanir and Erdelatz, than I ever learned before about blocking.”
He wasn’t shy about predicting success for the Raiders this year, either. “I thought our offense was as good as anybody’s in the league last year,” he said. “Now we’re getting some great things for a new-look defense. Tom Flores came along fast last year. He’s a big pro quarterback now. He can beat anybody in the National League, for my money. What’s more, he’s a natural leader. We’re going to have a great team. We’re playing together and I think we can win it. I know we got the guys who’ll give it a hell of a try.”
Oh, and about that nickname: “Buddy Parker, when I was with the Steelers in ’59, lined us all up for a race and I won it. He named me Jetstream right then. Funny, even my mother calls me Jet now and she always called me James before.”