Former Iowa Hawkeye Alex Karras dead at 77


October 10th, 2012 by Ric Hanson

A former Iowa Hawkeye football player who went on to be a star in the N-F-L and on television has died. Alex Karras was an Indiana native who played college football at the University of Iowa. Karras, a defensive tackle, was the runner-up in the voting for the 1957 Heisman Trophy. He played professional football for the Detroit Lions and retired in 1970 at the age of 35. Karras had success as an actor. In the 1974 movie, Blazing Saddles, Karras played Mongo — a character who punched out a horse in a memorable scene. Karras also starred in the long-running T-V series “Webster” — portraying a retired professional football player who adopted the child of a fellow player.

The woman who portrayed his wife on the show was married to Karras in real life. Karras and his wife joined 69 other former N-F-L players in filing a lawsuit against the league earlier this year, arguing the N-F-L did not properly warn players of the risk of returning to the field after suffering a concussion. According to a family statement, Karras died after “a heroic fight with kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and, for the last two years, stomach cancer.” He was 77 years old.