|Alex Karras in his first major role: A Detroit Lion|
|Karras as Mongo in "Blazing Saddles"|
Karras made a lasting name on a sitcom in the 1980s ("Webster" with Susan Clark) that I never say and I've always thought it sad that those little excursions into moneymaking often obscure much better work. He played a closeted gay bodyguard in "Victor Victoria," another of is short, but memorable roles in a long movie career. His gambling in 1962 (when he was banned from football for a year--along with Paul Hornung--and spent that year thumbing his nose at the NFL as a pro wrestler) will probably always keep him out of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, which is a shame if you consider those things important. I don't. He was a great football player and no hall of fame can make him any better.
More than the acting, the athletics or anything else, though, Alex Karras was a free man, a free soul who laughed and loved and lived life to the fullest. Screw the hall of fame. But let's not forget even for a second that it was football that left him a shell, even in his 77th year. He was physically spent because of the entertainment he provided many of us and that's the shame.