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Mongo only pawn in game of life. Alex Karras is dead at 77.

Later that year Karras reportedly sold his ownership share in the Lindell A.C., a Detroit bar that was frequented by athletes and, according to the Detroit police, “known hoodlums,” to convince Rozelle that he was repentant — he denied this later — and Rozelle reinstated both men after 11 months, in time for them to play in 1964. Shortly after Karras returned, an official asked him to call the pregame coin toss and Karras, with cheeky disdain, refused.

“I’m sorry, sir,” he explained, “but I’m not permitted to gamble.”


Karras was primarily an outside pass rusher. At the snap, he tended to feint a move to the inside to try to force the guard to shift his weight to his inside foot, and then Karras would quickly break back to his outside. “One of his moves is a little hop and a skip to the outside,” said Jerry Kramer. “He actually hops, and it looks funny, but it works.”

Video clips.

While “Blazing Saddles” and “Webster” are the most commonly remembered credits on his resume, Karras also popped up in many other roles during his nearly 30 years on screens big and small. Here's a look at his career via video clips.

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Great line.Richard Pryor supplied it.

Karras of course was very far from pawnlike, which quality is a factor keeping him out of the Hall of Fame. He never apologized and never explained, even when arguably apologies were called for. His onscreen presence was rather sweet ("Mongo like candy") in contrast to his ferocity on the field and active dislike of quarterbacks, which he seems to have carried into retirement (Wilfrid Sheed recalled the throaty chortle Karras emitted, during the latter's Monday Night Football stint, whenever a QB was the victim of a particularly choice hit). He obviously had a good mind and it's more than a shame to think of him suffering from dementia, very possibly due to his career in football.

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