Notice: This is the official website of the All Empires History Community (Reg. 10 Feb 2002)

  FAQ FAQ  Forum Search   Register Register  Login Login

Alex Karras, 77 May he Rest in Peace

 Post Reply Post Reply
Author
red clay View Drop Down
Administrator
Administrator
Avatar
Tomato Master Emeritus

Joined: 14-Jan-2006
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 10111
  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Topic: Alex Karras, 77 May he Rest in Peace
    Posted: 11-Oct-2012 at 09:50
 

Alex Karras, former NFL lineman, actor, dies at 77

FILE - This is a 1971 file photo showing Detroit Lions football player Alex Karras. Karras...

By LARRY LAGE, AP
Wed Oct 10, 10:13 PM UTC

Alex Karras was a man of many roles.

Fearsome NFL defensive lineman. Lovable TV dad. Hilarious big-screen cowboy.

And in the end, a dementia victim who blamed the NFL for his illness along with thousands of former players in lawsuits accusing the league of not doing enough to protect them from the long-term effects of head injuries.

The 77-year-old Karras, who managed to be tough, touching and tragic in the span of a lifetime, died Wednesday at his Los Angeles home surrounded by family members, said Craig Mitnick, Karras' attorney.

Karras was one of the NFL's most ferocious — and best — defensive tackles for the Detroit Lions from 1958-70, bulling past offensive lineman and hounding quarterbacks.

The charismatic bruiser went into acting after his football career, and in his signature scene dropped a horse with a punch as the soft-hearted outlaw Mongo in the 1974 comedy "Blazing Saddles." He also portrayed the father in the 1980s sitcom "Webster," along with his actress-wife Susan Clark, and was in the "Monday Night Football" broadcast booth along the way.

"Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex," Lions president Tom Lewand said.

Born in Gary, Ind., Karras starred for four years at Iowa and was later inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame. Detroit drafted him with the 10th overall pick in 1958, and he was a three-time All-Pro defensive tackle over 12 seasons with the franchise.

He was the heart of the Lions' defensive front that terrorized quarterbacks. The Lions handed the champion Green Bay Packers their only defeat in 1962, a 26-14 upset on Thanksgiving during which they harassed quarterback Bart Starr constantly.

Packers guard Jerry Kramer wrote in his diary of the 1967 season about his trepidation over having to face Karras.

"I'm thinking about him every minute," Kramer wrote.

Karras was All-Pro in 1960, 1961 and 1965, and he made the Pro Bowl four times. He was recognized by the Pro Football Hall of Fame as a defensive tackle on the All-Decade Team of the 1960s and retired from the NFL in 1970 at age 35.

But Karras also had run-ins with the NFL long before his lawsuit. He missed the 1963 season when he was suspended by NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle in a gambling probe. Karras insisted he only wagered cigarettes or cigars with close friends.

"Alex Karras was an outstanding player during a time when the NFL emerged as America's favorite sport," the league said in a statement. "He will always be remembered as one of the most colorful characters in NFL history."

For all his prowess as a player, Karras may have gained more fame as an actor.

He had already become known through George Plimpton's behind-the-scenes book "Paper Lion: Confessions of a Last-String Quarterback," about what it was like to be an NFL player in Detroit.

Karras and Plimpton remained friends for life, and one of Karras' sons is named after the author. Karras played himself alongside Alan Alda in the successful movie adaptation of the book, and that opened doors for Karras to be an analyst with Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford on "Monday Night Football."

In Mel Brooks' "Blazing Saddles," Karras played a not-so-bright, rough-around-the-edges outlaw who not only slugged a horse but also delivered the classic line: "Mongo only pawn in game of life."

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

"I had a very heavy heart this morning and I did not know why. I understand now," Lewis said. "Rest in peace, my friend."

Karras 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 Clark in the title role. The two later formed their own production company.

Clark has said that Karras started to show signs of dementia more than a dozen years ago, and she said his quality of life had deteriorated because of head injuries sustained during his playing career. He could no longer drive and couldn't remember recipes for some of the favorite Italian and Greek dishes he used to cook, she said.

In April, he became the lead plaintiff in a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia. He is among about 3,500 retired football players who accuse the league of not protecting them better from head injuries.

"This physical beating that he took as a football player has impacted his life, and therefore it has impacted his family life," Clark told the AP earlier this year. "He is interested in making the game of football safer and hoping that other families of retired players will have a healthier and happier retirement."

The NFL maintains that it did not intentionally seek to mislead players and says it has taken action to better protect players and advance the science of concussion management and treatment.

"It's an ironic tragedy that Alex had to live with devastating effects from playing the game he loved," Mitnick said.

He said the NFL on Aug. 30 filed a motion to dismiss all the players' actions, and the plaintiffs' response is due Oct. 30.

Mitnick said the family hasn't decided whether to donate Karras' brain for study, as other families have done. The family released a statement listing his other ailments as kidney failure, which recently hospitalized him, stomach cancer and heart disease.

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

In addition to Clark, his wife of 37 years, he is survived by their daughter and his four children from his first marriage to the late Joan Powell.

___

AP Sports Columnist Tim Dahlberg, AP Pro Football Writer Howard Fendrich and AP Television Writer Frazier Moore contributed to this report.

___

Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://twitter.com/larrylage

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press.

Back to Top
red clay View Drop Down
Administrator
Administrator
Avatar
Tomato Master Emeritus

Joined: 14-Jan-2006
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 10111
  Quote red clay Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Oct-2012 at 10:25
I posted the above more as a follow up to the McMahon story I posted the other day. However this hits more on a personal level.  Karras was one of my heros as a kid. He played the game in the way it was supposed to be played, flat out.
Apparently he was the orginator of the Lawsuit against the NFL.  I was wondering how a Philadelphia Lawyer like Mitnick got involved. Craig was one of my Landscape clients back in the day.  He was known then as a "Criminal Defense Atty", that was before he became a regular on Fox News, and did away with the pony tail and Cowboy hat.Big smile
Mitnick represented quite a few Eagles and other Philly sports figures, so I guess that's the connection. 
 


Edited by red clay - 11-Oct-2012 at 10:32
"Arguing with someone who hates you or your ideas, is like playing chess with a pigeon. No matter what move you make, your opponent will walk all over the board and scramble the pieces".
Unknown.
Back to Top
Centrix Vigilis View Drop Down
Emperor
Emperor
Avatar

Joined: 18-Aug-2006
Location: The Llano
Online Status: Offline
Posts: 7392
  Quote Centrix Vigilis Quote  Post ReplyReply Direct Link To This Post Posted: 11-Oct-2012 at 14:31
He was a tough SOB......and one of the best DL's of his era. When all else failed and ya had no reason to love the Lions...there was Karras. And I cheered them rascals every time they beat Minnesota or Chicago.
And I too loved Karras. It was tough when I had to watch him play Starr and the Pack......but the memories are still there. And he, like Merlin Olsen...for big men..were indeed gentle giants.
 
RIP Alex. You were a great football player and a great person.
"Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence"

S. T. Friedman


Pilger's law: 'If it's been officially denied, then it's probably true'

Back to Top
 Post Reply Post Reply

Forum Jump Forum Permissions View Drop Down

Bulletin Board Software by Web Wiz Forums® version 9.56a [Free Express Edition]
Copyright ©2001-2009 Web Wiz

This page was generated in 0.139 seconds.