Allen Park, MI – Former Detroit Lions great Alex Karras died Wednesday at the age of 77.
Karras, who had been suffering from dementia and kidney failure, died at his home in Los Angeles surrounded by family members.
"After a heroic fight with kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and for the last two years, stomach cancer, Alex Karras, iconic football player, beloved sports commentator and popular film and TV actor, died at his home in Los Angeles early this morning, surrounded by family," the Karras family said in a statement released by the Lions.
Karras was selected by the Lions with the 10th overall pick of the 1958 NFL Draft out of Iowa and went on to play 12 seasons. He was a four-time Pro Bowl selection and was a member of the NFL's 1960s All-Decade Team, despite missing the 1963 season as a suspension for alleged gambling.
After his playing days ended in 1970, Karras embarked on an acting career. He is best-remembered for his roles as Mongo in "Blazing Saddles" and as the father in the 1980s television sitcom "Webster."
Karras is one of many former players who have taken part in a concussion lawsuit filed against the NFL.
"On behalf of the William Clay Ford family and the entire Detroit Lions organization, we extend our deepest sympathies to Susan, the Karras Family and to all of Alex's friends and fans across the country," Lions president Tom Lewand said in a statement. "While his legacy reached far beyond the gridiron, we always will fondly remember Alex as one of our own and also as one of the best to ever wear the Honolulu Blue and Silver."