It is a sad day in the football world today as former Detroit Lion defensive lineman, Alex Karras, died after having kidney failure. He was 77 years old.
Alexander George “Alex” Karras was born in Gary, Indiana on July 15, 1935. He played his college football as an Iowa Hawkeye and was later drafted in the first round (10th overall) by the Lions in the 1958 NFL Draft.
Karras was a stellar defensive tackle during his 12 seasons in the NFL (1958-1962, 1964-1970). He was a 4-time Pro Bowler and a 3-time First-Team All-Pro. The Lions named him to their All-Decade Team for the 1960s.
In 1963, Karras was warned by NFL officials to sell his ownership in Detroit’s Lindell AC Bar. There were accusations of gambling and organized crime going on in the bar. After being threatened, Karras admitted to placing bets on NFL games. He was suspended for the entire 1963 NFL season.
Aside from football and the controversy, Karras had a great acting career. He starred in the movie “Paper Lion” which was based off a nonfictional book about him. During his suspension, he took part in pro wrestling as the character, Dick the Bruiser.
He focused on Hollywood after his NFL career had ended, making appearances on such shows as “MASH” and “The Odd Couple”. His longest role was on the television show “Webster“. He played the adoptive father of the character Webster, played by Emmanuel Lewis. He also was well known for his portrayal of Mongo in the movie “Blazing Saddles”
He also worked in the Monday Night Football broadcast booth from 1974 to 1976.
Our condolences go out to his wife and children.