Former NFL All-Pro Alex Karras Close to Death, Free Press Says

Former Detroit Lions defensive tackle Alex Karras has been given days to live after suffering kidney failure within the past two weeks, the Detroit Free Press reported, citing a friend of the Karras family.

Lions President Tom Lewand said in a statement last night that the organization is “deeply saddened” by the news.

Karras, 77, is a three-time All-Pro who played 12 National Football League seasons with the Lions from 1958-70. He then went on to a television and movie career, spending three years as an NFL analyst on ABC’s “Monday Night Football,” getting cast as Mongo in the 1974 movie “Blazing Saddles” and starring in the ABC sitcom “Webster.”

“Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex,” Lewand said. “We know Alex first and foremost as one of the cornerstones to our Fearsome Foursome defensive line of the 1960s and also as one of the greatest defensive linemen to ever play in the NFL.”

The Detroit Free Press reported that Tom McInerney, a friend of Karras’s since the 1950s, said Karras’s wife, Susan Clark, told him of her husband’s kidney failure. Karras has also had dementia and cancer in recent years and is part of the mass concussion lawsuit more than 3,000 former players have filed against the NFL, the newspaper said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Erik Matuszewski in New York at matuszewski@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Michael Sillup at msillup@bloomberg.net

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