Alex Karras, who played defensive line for the Lions and later found even greater fame as an actor, is reportedly suffering from kidney failure and near death.
After reports surfaced on Monday night that the 77-year-old Karras was given only days to live, Lions president Tom Lewand said in a statement expressing concern from the team.
“The entire Detroit Lions family is deeply saddened to learn of the news regarding the condition of one of our all-time greats, Alex Karras,” Lewand said. “Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex.”
An Outland Trophy winner at Iowa who has been inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame, Karras was a first-round draft pick of the Lions in 1958 and was named to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s. After retiring Karras went into acting, where he was best known for playing Mongo in Blazing Saddles and George on the sitcom Webster.
Karras has been in bad health for several years, and he is one of the thousands of former players suing the NFL over brain injuries.