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Alexis Karrass - Football legend / Actor dies

posted Oct 10, 2012, 1:00 PM by Terry Harris

Alex Karras dies at the age of 77. He was one of the NFL's most feared defensive tackles throughout the 1960s, 

The lovable dad from the 1980s sitcom ''Webster.'' Mongo who punched out a horse in ''Blazing Saddles.'' Mongo only pawn in game of life.''

Karras played for tthe Detroit Lions' defense also had a stint along  as a commentator on ''Monday Night Football''

Karras had recently suffered kidney failure and been diagnosed with dementia. The Lions also said he had suffered from heart disease and, for the last two years, stomach cancer. He died at home in Los Angeles surrounded by family members, said Craig Mitnick, Karras' attorney.

Karras played at Iowa for four years. Detroit drafted Karras with the 10th overall pick in 1958 and he was a four-time All-Pro defensive tackle over 12 seasons with the franchise.

'Karras played his entire NFL career with the Lions before retiring in 1970 at age 35. He was a first-team All-Pro in 1960, 1961 and 1965, and he made the Pro Bowl four times. He missed the 1963 season when he was suspended by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle in a gambling probe. Karras was recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a defensive tackle on the All-Decade Team of the 1960s.

He gained more fame when he turned to acting in the movies and on television.

In the 1980s, he played a sheriff in the comedy ''Porky's'' and became a hit on the small screen as Emmanuel Lewis' adoptive father, George Papadapolis, in the sitcom ''Webster.''

He also had roles in ''Against All Odds'' and ''Victor/Victoria.'' He portrayed the husband of famed female athlete ''Babe'' Didrikson Zaharias in the TV movie that starred Susan Clark, who later became his wife. The two formed their own production company and it was Clark who played the role of his wife on ''Webster.''

Clark has said he was formally diagnosed with dementia several years ago and has had symptoms for more than a dozen years. He joined hundreds of other former players suing the league.

Karras later wrote an autobiography, ''Even Big Guys Cry,'' and two other books, ''Alex Karras' and ''Tuesday Night Football.''