Former Lion, actor Alex Karras dies at 77


Former Lions defensive lineman turned actor Alex Karras died Wednesday at his home in Los Angeles, according to a family spokesman. He was 77.

Karras, who had recently suffered kidney failure, died while surrounded by family members, said Craig Mitnick, Karras’ attorney and family spokesman.

While perhaps more remembered now for his role as “Mongo” in Blazing Saddles, Karras was a four-time Pro Bowler, a dominant force on the field, which opened the door to a second career in acting.

Our thoughts go out to all of Karras’ family, friends and former teammates.

62 responses to “Former Lion, actor Alex Karras dies at 77

  1. I was born in ’77, so I never got a chance to see more than highlights. Thanks to the Sabol family, I was able to see highlights of him playing and he was outstanding. The lack of recordkeeping of QB sacks until the 1982 season makes it hard for people of today to be able to compare him to the players to today, but if they watch those NFL Films you would see a great player.

    He is finally resting in peace and no longer in pain. Thanks for what you brought to the game and our televisions, George.

  2. What a loss! During his time, Karras was among the best five defensive tackles in the league.

    Shame on the NFL, which blackballed this great player thus excluding him from his rightful spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

    RIP my friend.

  3. One the true “legendary” characters in this league’s history. And to compound that, one of the most memorable characters in the history of movie comedy. Alex, you made your mark on both and won’t be forgotten. Rest in peace.

  4. My first memories of Alex Karras was his role in one of the best early movies about pro football, Paper Lion.

    He was a dominant player back in the day and seemed to be a great and funny guy.

    RIP to one of the greatest players in Detroit Lion history

  5. For anyone under the age of 30, he’s probably “more remembered” for the show Webster. Goodbye, Mr. Papadopolis. =(

  6. He was a force with the Lions. I remember him when he was at Tulane Stadium and almost got to Dempsey before he kicked that 63 yarder. 11/8/70

  7. Indeed we are all just pawns in the game of life. RIP Mongo. A true Lion on the field in more than just the name.

  8. The best line he said was after he was suspended by the NFL for gambling:

    Karras once refused when an official asked him to call the pregame coin toss. “I’m sorry, sir,” Karras replied. “I’m not permitted to gamble

  9. I met and spoke with him a few times when the Lions would play an exhibition game annually in Toledo . He always had time for kids after the game. I have very fond memories of of him as a person and player. He will be missed.

  10. RIP Alex. As a fan of football it was players like Alex that caught my attention to the game. Players today should all stop and give thanks to Alex, his era players are what gave the players today all the fancy cars, big ear rings and flash they care about more than the game. The players of that time represented the town and fans and the town and fans died with each loose and pride of each win. Today the players are all about what is in it for me, stats for fantasy and where can they go to play for more more and more. Alex played rough and tuff and was respected by other team players for his style. Our hearts go out to his wife and children and thank them for letting us see a man playing a game.

  11. Somewhere in heaven someone right now is saying “Never mind that sh*t, here comes Mongo”

    RIP and condolences to Mr. Karras family.

  12. Shame on the NFL for keeping Alex out of the HOF while allowing Paul Hornung to enter. While Alex was somewhat more controversial off the field it was never to the point of banishment from the HOF. He was one of the all-time greats at his position as former teammate and recent HOF inductee Dick Lebeau referred to Alex as “unblockable”. Karras and Hornung both belong.

    Aside from being a great player and outstanding actor he also had a great sense of humor. I recall when the European soccer-style field goal kickers first arrived on the scene, Alex came up with – “We beat ourselves up for 59 minutes and at the end of the game a win or loss depends on a guy running onto the field with his helmet on backwards yelling – ” I keek touchdown”.

    Rest in peace Alex, you were a great human being and a Hall Of Famer in my book. RIP.

  13. I’m a bit too young to remember most of his playing days on the Lions but I enjoyed his insights/wit on MNF during Don Meredith’s hiatus in the mid-70s.

    His quip one hot Monday night about Ottis Sistrunk being from “the University of Mars” is legendary among Raiders fans.

    R.I.P., Alex

  14. If you like Alex Karras, his book “Even Big Guys Cry” is a must read. He was talented football player, author, and actor. This gifted man will be missed!

  15. I saw Blazing Saddles with my Father when it came out, and I never heard my Dad laugh so hard in his whole life as he did when Mongo KO’d that horse.

    Thanks for all the smiles, Mr. Karras.

  16. One of the greatest defensive lineman, back in the day when “men were men”. As tough as they came. A fine actor, and from all accounts a wonderful man. “Mongo” will live forever.
    Really a shame to see the lowlife troll morons who feel the need to ‘thumbs down’ comments honoring a wonderful person who has passed away.

  17. RIP Mr. Karras and condolences to the family and friends of this great gentleman.

    Mongo was a great character and knocking out that horse was one of the best scenes not only in that movie but all Mel Brooks movies.

    Remember him from Webster also, essentially playing himself as a former player and broadcaster on MNF.

  18. Rest in peace, Mr. Karras.

    Setting up that Otis Sistrunk MNF line: they were playing the Dolphins. Cosell, also a notorious diploma-sniffer, zero’d in on a No-Name Defense stalwart: “There’s DOUG SWIFT! His parents are both doctors! He went to AMHERST!” Then cut to the Raider bench and Karras: “And Howard, there’s Otis Sistrunk from the University of Mars.”

    Overall, Alex was no Dandy Don in the booth but that gained him instant color-man immortality.

  19. RIP. one of the last GREAT linemen, these guys today don’t hold a candle to players like AK.

  20. I was fortunate growing up in Detroit that my dad had season Lions tickets and I got to see this guy play. He was a monster. A feared player and a dam good one at that.
    Men suited up, played the game and kept there big mouths shut and didn’t look around for some union rep to sue the league via the court system. Pathetic little pricks these days only worried about money and getting into the Hall.

    I was able to see some of the all time greats and Alex, the memories of your play will be with me always.
    My condolences to your family. RIP my man.

  21. Why would anyone put a thumbs down rating on people expressing their condolences? You people are sad.

  22. Nobody on the Fearsome Foursome had anything on Alex Karras.

    Karras, Butkus and Ray Nitschke were the toughest players I ever saw play this game. There was no “player safety” on their minds. All three are/were a man’s man.

  23. “Even Big Guys Cry,” yes indeed. Read it as a young man, when I was often told I looked like him. Proud for that to have been the case. If only I can live the full life he seems to have lived. RIP Mr. Karras

  24. grew up with Alex and the NFL’s first fearsome foursome. Paper Lion was his ticket to future success as an actor. His time as an analyst for MNF was better than anyone’s. Otis Sistrunk six foot 8 inches tall 260 pounds out of the University of Mars.

  25. He was a “man’s man” and led one heck of a life, with two successful careers. The only people I ever heard speak negatively about him were the guys who tried to block him on the football field, but even that ended when the game ended.

    RIP Mr. Karras. If there’s a Heaven, “here comes Mongo” indeed.

  26. I was lucky enough to be run over by Karras watching the Lions play at summer camp back in the 60’s. He helped me up from the bottom of the pile and said, “Nice tackle, kid.”
    He was a great guy.

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