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Former NFL player and actor Alex Karras died today in Los Angeles. “After a heroic fight with kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and for the last two years, stomach cancer, “ he died at his home early this morning, surrounded by family.

He and his wife Susan Clark also starred in the TV show “Webster.” Karras was also a participant in the mass concussion lawsuit more than 3,000 former players filed earlier this year against the National Football League.

To a generation of TV and film fans, Karras will forever be the loving adoptive dad on the 1980s sitcom “Webster” or the big guy who punched a horse in 1974′s “Blazing Saddles.” Before his acting days, he was a football star, a three-time All-Pro defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions in the 1960s.

The 77-year-old Karras had been suffering from dementia. Detroit drafted him 10th overall out of Iowa in 1958 and he was a standout for 12 seasons.

He also played the role of Mongo in the 1974 comedy classic “Blazing Saddles,” in which he said, “Mongo only pawn in game of life,” and punched out a horse.

Many others across the country came to know Alex as an accomplished actor and as an announcer during the early years of ‘Monday Night Football.

Recently, his wife said his quality of life has been made worse because of head injuries sustained during his playing career. Susan Clark said earlier this year that her husband couldn’t drive after loving to get behind the wheel and he could no longer remember recipes for some of his favorite Italian and Greek dishes he used to cook.

Clark, who also played the wife of Karras’ character on “Webster,” has said he was formally diagnosed with dementia several years ago and has had symptoms for more than a dozen years. She and Karras were among those who filed suit nearly six months ago in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

The NFL has said it did not intentionally seek to mislead players and has taken action to better protect players and to advance the science of concussion management and treatment.

via BMS

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