Alex Karras remembered for star turn in pro football, TV and film acting
Former All-Pro defensive lineman Alex Karras passed away on Wednesday. He played for the NFL's Detroit Lions, then went on to an acting career.
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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."Skip to next paragraph
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"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.
Recently, his wife said Karras' quality of life has deteriorated because of head injuries sustained during his playing career.
Susan Clark said earlier this year that her husband couldn't drive after loving to get behind the wheel and couldn't remember recipes for some of the favorite Italian and Greek dishes he used to cook.
"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 Associated Press 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."
Clark, who also played the wife of Karras' loveable character on "Webster," 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.
"It's the same thing as back in the gladiator days when the gladiators fought to death," Mitnick, who represents Karras and hundreds of others in the suit, has said. "Fans care about these guys when they're playing and they are heroes. But as soon as you're not a hero and not playing the fan doesn't really care what happens to them."
The NFL has said it did not intentionally seek to mislead players and has taken action to better protect players and to advance the science of concussion management and treatment.
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 was born and raised in Gary, Ind., and was inducted into the Indiana Football Hall of Fame in 1976.
"We know Alex first and foremost as one of the cornerstones to our Fearsome Foursome defensive line of the 1960s and also as one of the greatest defensive linemen to ever play in the NFL," Lewand said. "Many others across the country came to know Alex as an accomplished actor and as an announcer during the early years of 'Monday Night Football.'"
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