Alex Karras was a man of many roles. Fearsome NFL defensive lineman. Lovable TV dad. Hilarious big-screen cowboy.

And in the end, a dementia victim who blamed the NFL for his illness along with thousands of former players in lawsuits accusing the league of not doing enough to protect them from the long-term effects of head injuries.

The 77-year-old Karras, who managed to be tough, touching and tragic in the span of a lifetime, died Wednesday at his Los Angeles home surrounded by family members, said Craig Mitnick, Karras' attorney.

Karras was one of the NFL's most ferocious -- and best -- defensive tackles for the Detroit Lions from 1958-70, bulling past offensive linemen and hounding quarterbacks.

The charismatic bruiser went into acting after his football career, and in his signature scene dropped a horse with a punch as the softhearted outlaw Mongo in the 1974 comedy "Blazing Saddles." He also portrayed the father in the 1980s sitcom "Webster," along with his actress-wife, Susan Clark, and was in the "Monday Night Football" broadcast booth along the way. As a color commentator on MNF, he once jokingly referred to Raiders defensive lineman Otis Sistrunk as having attended the "University of Mars."

"Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as did Alex," Lions president Tom Lewand said.


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Packers: Running back Cedric Benson, who has had 71 of the team's 111 carries, was placed on injured reserve because of a sprained left foot but was designated to return. He must sit out eight games before he can play again.

Redskins: Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III practiced and showed no effects from a mild concussion. Barring any unexpected setbacks before Sunday, Griffin will start against the visiting Minnesota Vikings.

Bills: Buffalo defensive end Mark Anderson will have surgery on his left knee and will be out indefinitely. Anderson, who signed a four-year, $27 million contact before the season, suffered the injury in the second half last Sunday during a 45-3 loss at San Francisco.

Panthers: The team announced that Pro Bowl center Ryan Kalil is out for the season after suffering a left foot injury. Kalil was injured in Carolina's 16-12 loss to Seattle, although he continued playing.

Chiefs: Brady Quinn is preparing to start his first NFL game since the 2009 season when Kansas City visits the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. The Chiefs are expected to be without quarterback Matt Cassel, who suffered a concussion in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's 9-6 loss to Baltimore. Chiefs coach Romeo Crennel said Cassel has not been cleared to play by medical staff.