The Detroit Lions have another Hall-of-Famer in the family.
Defensive tackle Alex Karras was selected posthumously to the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Wednesday as a member of the 15-person centennial class.
Karras, who starred for the Lions from 1958 to 1970 and died in 2012, was one of 10 senior-era players, picked by a panel of voters, who will be enshrined in Canton later this year.
Carolyn Karras, one of Alex’s daughters, said she was overcome with emotion after learning of her father’s selection by text message Wednesday morning, a selection that she said “brings closure to a lot of different things in our life.”
“I don’t know why it’s so shocking,” she said. “He deserved to go in, it’s just that I never thought that he’d go in. I really didn’t. And I thought, yeah, this year, if he doesn’t do it this year, I don’t think he’s probably going to.”
Three contributors and two previously announced coaches, Jimmy Johnson and Bill Cowher, also were picked as part of the class. They’ll be joined by up to five modern-era players, who will be chosen by the regular Hall of Fame selection committee before the Super Bowl next month.
More on Hall of Fame:
Ex-commissioner Paul Tagliabue headlines centennial class of 2020
Steve Sabol, the legend who changed how we watch NFL, makes Hall of Fame
Karras was a member of the NFL’s 1960s all-decade team and played alongside Hall of Famers Joe Schmidt, Lem Barney and Yale Lary in Detroit.
He made four Pro Bowls and was a three-time first-team All-Pro player with the Lions, but he also missed the 1963 season while serving a suspension for gambling.
Many believe that suspension is what kept Karras from Canton while he was alive, though Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung, who also was suspended for gambling, was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
After his playing career, Karras spent time as a professional wrestler and later became a popular actor. In two of his biggest roles, he played Mongo in the 1974 film “Blazing Saddles” and then George Papadopolis, the father of the title character in the 1980s TV show “Webster.”
“We would like to congratulate the entire Karras family on the selection of Alex into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Lions owner Martha Ford said in a statement released by the team.
“While we were thrilled to induct Alex into our most recent Pride of the Lions Class in 2018, today’s announcement solidifies his place as not only one of the all-time great Lions players, but also one of the best to ever play in the NFL.”
From 2018: Honor for Alex Karras is long overdue
Karras was one of three ex-Lions who was a centennial finalist for the Hall of Fame, along with Ox Emerson, a linebacker and offensive lineman who played for the Portsmouth Spartans and Detroit Lions from 1931 to 1937, and Buddy Parker, who led the Lions to two championships as coach.
Neither Emerson nor Parker was selected by the 25-person panel that included a handful of regular Hall of Fame voters, plus Hall of Fame players, coaches and football historians.
Wide receiver Harold Carmichael; offensive linemen Jim Covert, Winston Hill and Duke Slater; safeties Cliff Harris, Bobby Dillon and Donnie Shell; end Mac Speedie; and defensive lineman Ed Sprinkle were selected from the list of senior-era nominees, as were contributors Steve Sabol, George Young and Paul Tagliabue.
The Hall of Fame’s decision to change its rules this year to allow the centennial class in without a full vote of the 48-person selection committee was largely seen as an end-around in order to get the controversial Tagliabue elected.
Tagliabue, the NFL commissioner from 1989 to 2006, had been voted down four times for induction, in part because of the perception that he did not do enough to address the league’s concussion crisis.
Dave Birkett is a Pro Football Hall of Fame voter. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @davebirkett. Read more on the Detroit Lions and sign up for our Lions newsletter.
Published at Wed, 15 Jan 2020 19:38:05 +0000