Former Detroit Lion Alex Karras dies at 77

(WXYZ) - Former Detroit Lions' defensive lineman Alex Karras has died at the age of 77.

His family released a statement saying he died at his home, "after a heroic fight with kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and for the last two years, stomach cancer."

Karras played for the Lions from 1958 to 1970, after which he found success in Hollywood.

His best known roles may be as Mongo in the 1974 Mel Brooks' movie "Blazing Saddles" and as George Papadapolis in the 1980s sitcom "Webster."

Karras was also co-host of Monday Night Football for three years. He also appeared as a guest on Johnny Carson's Tonight Show more than two dozen times.

Karras is survived by his wife of 37-years and "Webster" co-star Susan Clark, their daughter and 5 children from a previous marriage. 

Karras and Clark co-starred numerous times, first acting together when Karras played George Zaharias in the CBS biopic Babe.

He is also survived by four siblings and five grandchildren.

Clark announced in April that Karas was suffering from dementia. The announcement came when it was revealed that Karras had joined hundreds of other former NFL players who were suing the league over concussion related injuries.

Born and raised in Gary, Indiana, Karras went to college at the University of Iowa. Following his college career he was drafted in the first round  by the Lions.

The team's current President, Tom Lewand, released the following statement on the death of Karras:

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. 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.

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