The Way It Was


Published:

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 ... Ryan Abney

Event manager, Belle Isle Boat House

A Look at the Inexplicable Exclusion of Detroit Tigers’ Lou Whitaker from the Baseball Hall of Fame

Writer Michael Betzhold investigates the Major League slip-up

Exploring Metro Detroit’s Tiki Trend

Mutiny Bar and Lost River serve up island vacations with every drink

Q&A: Nancy Barr, Curator of Photography at the Detroit Institute of Arts

Plus, information about the DIA’s upcoming exhibit, Lost & Found

Meet the Makers: Salt Textile Studios

This textile maker wants her creations to be unique to ‘here’
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Review: Testa Barra Wows with Contemporary Dishes
    The Macomb Township restaurant serves Italian fare that is on par with the surging Detroit food...
  2. Michigan-Made, Mother Nature-Approved Tools for Your Kitchen
    Ditch disposables and opt for reusable products
  3. Exploring Metro Detroit’s Tiki Trend
    Mutiny Bar and Lost River serve up island vacations with every drink
  4. A Deeper Look into the Racial and Ethnic Tensions Dividing Metro Detroit
    From the city to the suburbs, existing segregation could be hindering the region’s progress
  5. Every Day is Throwback Thursday at This Roseville Steakhouse
    Mr. Paul's Chophouse has remained consistently delicious for more than 50 years
  6. A Look at the Inexplicable Exclusion of Detroit Tigers’ Lou Whitaker from the Baseball Hall of Fame
    Writer Michael Betzhold investigates the Major League slip-up
  7. 3 Eateries that Focus on People, Profit, and the Planet
    These triple bottom line businesses are part of Detroit’s FoodLab organization
  8. Q&A: Nancy Barr, Curator of Photography at the Detroit Institute of Arts
    Plus, information about the DIA’s upcoming exhibit, Lost & Found
  9. This Vegan Catering Company Celebrates the ‘Natural Beauty of Food’
    Plus, tips on how to create your own photo-worthy grazing board
  10. Meet the Makers: Salt Textile Studios
    This textile maker wants her creations to be unique to ‘here’