Lineman starred in football, TV, movies
Alex Karras was one of the NFL's most feared defensive tackles throughout the 1960s, a player who hounded quarterbacks and bulled past opposing...
DETROIT — Alex Karras was one of the NFL's most feared defensive tackles throughout the 1960s, a player who hounded quarterbacks and bulled past opposing linemen.
And yet, to many people he will always be the lovable dad from the 1980s sitcom "Webster" or the big cowboy who famously punched out a horse in "Blazing Saddles."
The rugged player, who anchored the Detroit Lions' defense and then made a successful transition to an acting career, with a stint along the way as a commentator on "Monday Night Football," died Wednesday. He was 77.
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.
His death also will be tied to the NFL's conflict with former players over concussions. Karras in April joined the more than 3,500 veterans suing the league for not protecting them better from head injuries, immediately becoming one of the best-known names in the legal fight.
Susan Clark said her husband's quality of life had deteriorated in recent years. He couldn't drive and couldn't remember recipes for some of the dishes he used to cook.
Born in Gary, Ind., Karras starred for four years at Iowa. 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 team.
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, but he was never elected to the Hall of Fame.