Alex Karras, who gained fame in the NFL as a fearsome defensive lineman for the Detroit Lions and later as an actor, has died, the team said on Wednesday. He was 77.
Craig Mitnick, Karras' attorney, said Karras died at home in Los Angeles on Wednesday, 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.
"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," Lions president Tom Lewand said in statement.
"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," Lewand said.
Detroit drafted Karras, who grew up in Gary, Ind., No. 10 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 one of a kind personality and 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."
Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press