NFL legend, professional wrestler and actor Alex Karras passed away today of complications of kidney disease. He was 77.
Karras played defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions for 12 seasons, attaining Pro Bowl status four times and was part of the “Fearsome Foursome” which included Darris McCord, Roger Brown and Sam Williams. If not for his suspension during the 1963 season for betting on the 1962 NFL Championship Game, Karras would have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.
During his exile from the NFL, Karras moonlighted as a professional wrestler. His most notable match was against Dick The Bruiser because of the real life animosity between them.
But Karras was arguably better known as an actor than as a football player. That career began when he played himself in the film version of George Plimpton’s best-seller Paper Lion. Karras was in movies such as Porky’s, Victor Victoria and Against All Odds. But Karras is undoubtedly best remembered for his portrayal of Mongo in Mel Brooks’ Blazing Saddles in which he, shall we say, mistreated a horse on the set.
Karras spent the late 1970s as a commentator on ABC’s Monday Night Football and in the 1980s became known as a TV Dad playing Emmanuel Lewis’ adoptive father alongside Susan Clark (to whom he was married in real life) in Webster.
I remember Karras hosting an episode of SNL in 1984 because he and Jim Belushi dressed up in golf gear and did a white guy rap and wish I could leave you with it but I cannot find the video online. Instead, I will leave you with these words of wisdom from Mongo.
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