Former Detroit Lions, Iowa Hawkeyes LB Alex Karras passes on

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Alex Karras former star for the Iowa Hawkeyes at the college football level and Detroit Lions on the NFL level had died of kidney failure at the age of 77. Had he not been suspended for gambling during the 1963 season, Karras might be in the Hall of Fame right now.

After football, Karras had a second career as an actor, known best as the dad on the ’80s sitcom “Webster,” and his iconic role in “Blazing Saddles,” in which he punched a horse in the face.

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The rugged player, who anchored the Detroit Lions’ defense and then made a successful transition to an acting career, with a stint along the way as a commentator on ”Monday Night Football,” died Wednesday. He was 77.

Karras had recently suffered kidney failure and been diagnosed with dementia. The Lions also said he had suffered from heart disease and, for the last two years, stomach cancer. He died at home in Los Angeles surrounded by family members, said Craig Mitnick, Karras’ attorney.

”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.

His death also will be tied to the NFL’s conflict with former players over concussions. Karras in April joined the more than 3,500 football veterans suing the league for not protecting them better from head injuries, immediately becoming one of the best-known names in the legal fight. Mitnick said the family had not yet decided whether to donate Karras’ brain for study, as other families have done

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