Legends will tell you that Alex Karras had a big heart, and to hear the outspoken man talk, you would have thought you just got beaten up by a giant teddy bear, but on the gridiron, Karras was a human wrecking ball playing his entire career with the Detroit Lions, missing only one game in 12 seasons.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame named him a member of the "All Decade Team" of the 1960's, although he is not a member of the distinctive "Hall".

He joined a lawsuit against the National Football League alleging the failure of notification to players regarding long term brain damage from concussions.

For those of us who have a pirated VCR tape of the 1968 movie "Paper Lion", we can see Karras playing himself, as a character that chronicles his training camp tryout.  In the film "Blazing Saddles", he played the role of Mongo, the guy who rode into town on a bull, then KO'd a horse.  He was also the corrupt sheriff in 1982's "Porky's".

But perhaps his biggest television following came from playing father figure George Papadapolis, in the six year (1983-1989) running of "Webster".

He was diagnosed with dementia seven years ago, some believing as a result of head injuries he sustained during his football career.  Alex Karras died this morning from kidney failure.  He was 77.