The Way It Was


Photograph Courtesy of The Walter P. Reuther Library Archives of Labor and Urban Affairs, Wayne State University (The Detroit News)

1970As a burly defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions, Alex Karras faced many a fearsome foe through the years, but none quite like this: an armor-clad knight. But with poleax in hand, Karras looks determined to crush his opponent. Of course, this scenario was staged — set in the Detroit Institute of Arts for a special football preview section in The Detroit News. Karras, born in Gary, Ind., played with the Lions from 1958-62 and again from 1964-70. It wasn’t an injury that sidelined Karras during that missing year of 1963; rather, he was suspended for gambling on NFL games. That year wasn’t a good one for Karras. Although he was trained as a wrestler, he foolishly agreed to a match with the sandpaper-voiced fireplug Dick the Bruiser (aka William Afflis), who annihilated him at Olympia Stadium. This came shortly after an enraged Dick the Bruiser tore apart the Lindell AC, a downtown sports bar of which Karras was part owner. Upon retiring at 35 after the 1970 season, Karras’ career took a sharp but fruitful turn. He played the doltish Mongo in the film Blazing Saddles, and also enjoyed a stint as commentator on Monday Night Football. He also starred as himself in George Plimpton’s Paper Lion. But perhaps most people fondly recall Karras as Emmanuel Lewis’ teddy-bear adoptive father in the 1980s TV series Webster. Karras died in 2012 after battling kidney and heart disease as well as dementia.


Edit Module
Edit Module Edit ModuleShow Tags

Archive »Related Content

What’s in the Stars for Detroit

Under the pseudonym AstroTwins, celebrity astrologers Ophira and Tali Edut found their calling as undergraduates at the University of Michigan. Here, the identical twins share their predictions for metro Detroiters.

North American International Auto Show Charity Preview

A Survivor’s Story

A West Bloomfield resident shares his memories of living under occupied Poland during World War II

The Way It Was

Nash Metropolitan, 1958

Holiday Giving: Children's Charities

Help make the holidays merry and bright for little ones by donating to these charities.
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Under Wraps
    Lionel Perkins, senior project design engineer for camouflage at GM North America, unveils his...
  2. Machine Learning
    The next wave of artificial intelligence is making critical decisions in health care
  3. Heavyweight Estate
    Cadillac King Don Massey's property hits the market
  4. All About the Zip Sauce
    Food blogger and Instagram sensation, Seoung Lee, a.k.a. @chowdowndetroit, says Eddie’s Gourmet...
  5. The Meat of the Matter
    The latest West Village eatery, Marrow, carves a space for Detroit’s meat-eaters
  6. Food Recipe: Middle Eastern Spiced Roasted Carrots
    The mother-daughter team behind recipe development site, Crowded Kitchen, cooks up mindful dishes...
  7. Metrics of Mary Jane Motoring
    Research in a modest lab at John R and Mack addresses questions about cannabis and driving and...
  8. Detroit’s Got Spirits
    Inside the local craft distillery boom from Ferndale to Ann Arbor and beyond
  9. Eating in Translation
    What happens when centuries-old vegetarian traditions are transported across oceans
  10. Driver's Ed
    We’ve got auto questions, leading authorities have answers