Alex Karras Dies; NFL Star & Actor Was 77

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Alex Karras, an NFL lineman who starred with the Detroit Lions in the 1960s, then went on to a successful acting career, has died. He was 77 years old.

Alex Karras

Karras, who had recently suffered kidney failure, died at home in Los Angeles surrounded by family members, said Craig Mitnick, his attorney.

Alex starred in the sitcom Webster and famously punched a horse in the 1974 comedy Blazing Saddles, among other acting achievements.

Several years before that, Karras played a major role in George Plimpton's behind-the-scenes book about what it was like to be an NFL player in Detroit.

"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.

Not just for acting, either.

Diagnosed with dementia, Karras joined the more than 3,500 former NFL players suing the league for not protecting them better from head injuries.

He became one of the best-known names in the legal fight with the league and the ongoing controversy over the long-term ramifications of the sport.

R.I.P. to one of the greats.

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