For entertainment buffs, the name Alex Karras recalls a kindly father on the hit TV series Webster, or Mongo, a giant brawler that knocked out a horse with one punch in the comedy Blazing Saddles. To sports fans, Alex Karras is remembered as an all-pro defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions, and one of the best players the franchise ever produced.
Fans of Alex Karras, from either side, are beginning to mourn as word has been released that the former NFL star and actor is in hospice care and near death, suffering from kidney failure. Fox News reports that the 77-year-old Karras has been suffering from dementia. Karras is also part of a group of former NFL players suing the league over the treatment of head injuries during their playing days.
The Detroit Free Press reports that Karras has also suffered from cancer. The paper, citing long-time friend of Karras Tom McInerney, said the former star has only days to live. McInerney got his information from Susan Clark, Karras’ wife, who called him this week.
“‘It doesn’t look too good, Tommy. They’re talking probably a couple days,’” McInerney reported Clark as saying. “She said if you came out here it wouldn’t be worth his while because right now he’s talking about he wants to see his (deceased) mother and dad, and he’s on morphine, he’s on oxygen. She said it’s maybe a couple, three days at the most.”
Lions’ president Tom Lewand released a statement as well.
“The entire Detroit Lions family is deeply saddened to learn of the news regarding the condition of one of our all-time greats,” he wrote. “Alex Karras. Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex.”
Alex Karras played 12 years in the NFL, spent some time as a professional wrestler, and NFL broadcaster, among other tasks. His wife, Susan Clark, also played his wife on Webster.