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Former Lions star Alex Karras dies at 77

Former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras died Wednesday, at the age of 77.

Tim Fuller-US PRESSWIRE - Presswire

Former Detroit Lions defensive lineman Alex Karras died Wednesday, at the age of 77. According to the Associated Press, Karras suffered from various illnesses toward the end of his life, including heart disease, stomach cancer, kidney failure and dementia.

After spending his collegiate career at the University of Iowa, Karras was a first-round draft pick by the Lions in 1958. Karras was a dominant force on Detroit's defensive line, and was a four-time Pro Bowl selection. Karras was also named to the NFL's All-Decade team for the 1960s.

Karras was known off the field as well, as a commentator for Monday Night Football for three years. Karras also had a fairly successful acting career, with roles in The 500-Pound Jerk, Blazing Saddles, Porky's and Webster, among other films and television shows.

Karras spent his entire NFL career playing for the Lions, between 1958-1970. Karras, though, missed the 1963 season because of gambling activities.

The Detroit Lions released this statement regarding Karras' death.

"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. "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."