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Alex Karras, former NFL lineman, actor, dies at 77

  • FILE - This 1971 file photo shows Detroit Lions' Alex Karras. The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News reported Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, that the former All-Pro defensive lineman and actor has kidney failure and has been given only a few days to live. Lions president Tom Lewand says the NFL football franchise is deeply saddened to learn of Karras' condition. (AP Photo/File)

DETROIT — Alex Karras was a man of many roles.

Fearsome NFL defensive lineman. Lovable TV dad. Hilarious big-screen cowboy.

And in the end, a dementia victim who blamed the NFL for his illness along with thousands of former players in lawsuits accusing the league of not doing enough to protect them from the long-term effects of head injuries.

The 77-year-old Karras, who managed to be tough, touching and tragic in the span of a lifetime, died Wednesday at his Los Angeles home surrounded by family members, said Craig Mitnick, Karras' attorney.

Karras was one of the NFL's most ferocious — and best — defensive tackles for the Detroit Lions from 1958-70, bulling past offensive lineman and hounding quarterbacks.


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