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Tuesday
Oct092012

Actor and NFL Star Alex Karras Near Death

Vernon Biever/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former NFL great and actor, Alex Karras, is reportedly near death, following recent kidney failure.

The 77-year-old has been given only a few days to live, the Detroit Free Press reports.

Karras, a defensive tackle, was drafted 10th overall in 1958 by the Detroit Lions, and he played for the team his entire NFL career. Following his retirement from football in 1970 at the age of 35, Karras took up acting, playing Mongo in the Mel Brooks movie "Blazing Saddles" and lovable dad George Papadapolis on the ABC series "Webster."

Karras' former team is already extending its sympathies to the All-Pro defensive lineman. Lions President Tom Lewand said in a statement released late Monday night that the "entire Detroit Lions family is deeply saddened to learn of the news regarding one of our all-time greats.

Karras quit acting in 1998, and in his later years, was plagued by numerous health problems, including dementia. He is among the more than 3,000 players suing the NFL over the league's treatment of head injuries.

There have been a number of high-profile cases of former NFL players who have serious health problems stemming from the lingering effects of head trauma endured in their playing days. Depression caused by head trauma is said to have played a part in the suicides of Ray Easterling, Junior Seau and Dave Duerson.

The NFL has said it never purposefully misled the athletes, as the players allege, and is working toward a better understanding of concussions and how to protect players.

Catherine Lincoln, general manager of Clark Karras Properties, told the Detroit Free Press that Karras was released from the hospital over the weekend, and is currently in hospice care at his home in California.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio