Alex Karras was one of the NFL's most feared defensive tackles throughout the 1960s, a player who hounded quarterbacks and bulled past opposing linemen.
And yet, to many people he will always be the lovable dad from the 1980s sitcom "Webster" or the big cowboy who famously punched out a horse in "Blazing Saddles."
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.I have to wonder whether his years of hard-hitting football contributed to his relatively early onset of dementia, especially with the new knowledge gleaned in recent years about the long-term effects of concussions. As well, helmets in those days were not nearly as protective as they are now.
I remember him best from his tailor-made role in Mel Brooks' 1974 classic western sendup, Blazing Saddles, as Mongo, a brute strong man enlisted by the evil Hedley Lamarr (Harvey Korman) to destroy the innocent town of Rockridge
And so Mongo rode into town (clip here):
But Mongo finally figured out he was just being used: