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

An Hour with ... Carmen Harlan

Broadcast journalist and founder of the Carmen Harlan Collection

God-Given Talent

A local choir sings its way to live television

The Sincere Storyteller

Broadway fans will soon learn, playwright Dominique Morisseau’s work is unapologetically Detroit

Do Good

The Greater Detroit Philanthropy Awards are back with eight new recipients

The Unsung Superhero

At the drawing board with Marvel illustrator, Jim Towe
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Best Dressed 2018
    Pulling back the curtain on this year’s selection of the region’s most stylish denizens
  2. Keeping Up with Sheefy McFly
    The multitalented visual artist and musician is ubiquitous in the Motor City
  3. Cocktail Recipe: Casa del Cider
  4. Designer Taste
    A quaint Ferndale shop sells exotic cheese, chocolate, and charcuterie
  5. Excellence in Care: Beaumont Health
    Hour Detroit presented Beaumont Health with an Excellence in Care Award for this extraordinary...
  6. Gathering Spot
    Eastern Market restaurant finds its groove after a rocky beginning
  7. The Way It Was
    Better Made Snack Foods, 1971
  8. Food Recipe: Barbecue Mac & Cheese
    Vast Kitchen and Bar executive chef, Jordan Gillis, upgrades the comfort staple
  9. Sanctuary for the Senses
    Castalia in Midtown offers a cocktail experience unlike any other
  10. Excellence in Care: St. Joseph Mercy Health
    Hour Detroit presented St. Joseph Mercy Health with an Excellence in Care Award for this...