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Alex Karras, Detroit Lions legend, experiencing kidney failure

  • By NFL.com
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Alex Karras has just days to live because of kidney failure, according to a friend of the 77-year-old former Detroit Lions defensive tackle.

Tom McInerney, a Karras family friend, told the Detroit Free Press he learned of the ex-Lion's deteriorating condition  Monday morning in a phone call from Karras' wife, Susan Clark. McInerney said Karras is in the hospital and that he's expected to live for just a few days.

Alex Karras' professional achievements have extended beyond his exploits with the Detroit Lions, as he became an actor famous for his roles in
Alex Karras' professional achievements have extended beyond his exploits with the Detroit Lions, as he became an actor famous for his roles in "Blazing Saddles" and "Webster." (National Football League)

Karras, 77, played for the Lions from 1958 to 1970 and was part of the their infamous "Fearsome Foursome" defensive unit of the early 1960s. He embarked on a successful acting career after his football days, with a starring role in the 1974 Mel Brooks film, "Blazing Saddles." Karras also starred in the 1980s sitcom "Webster."

In recent years, Karras was part of a concussion lawsuit against the NFL involving more than 3,000 former players. He also was diagnosed with cancer and dementia.

Lions president Tom Lewand released a statement Monday regarding Karras:

"The entire Detroit Lions family is deeply saddened to learn of the news regarding the condition of one of our all-time greats, Alex Karras. Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex.

"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. 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.

"We join his legions of fans from both sports and entertainment in prayer and support for Alex, his wife Susan, and his entire family during this most difficult time."

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