Alex Karras, Actor, NFL Star, Dies at 77 Suffered dementia, was suing NFL over head injuries By Newser Editors and Wire Services Posted Oct 10, 2012 9:49 AM CDT 22 comments Comments This 1971 file photo shows Detroit Lions' Alex Karras. The Detroit Free Press and Detroit News reported Monday, Oct. 8, 2012, that Karras has kidney failure and has been given only a few days to live. (Anonymous) (Newser) – Alex Karras, who gained fame in the NFL as a fearsome defensive lineman and later as an actor, has died. He was 77. Karras' attorney said he died at home in Los Angeles today, surrounded by family. Karras had been suffering from dementia. He was among the more than 3,500 NFL players suing the league regarding the treatment of head injuries. Detroit drafted Karras, who grew up in Gary, Ind., 10th overall in 1958 out of Iowa and he was a four-time All-Pro defensive tackle over 12 seasons with the franchise. Karras may be even better known for his work as an actor. He portrayed an adoptive dad in the 1980s sitcom Webster, and punched a horse in the 1974 comedy classic Blazing Saddles.