That led to Karras playing himself in the successful movie adaption, and it opened doors for Karras to be an analyst alongside Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford on "Monday Night Football."
In the 1980s, he played a sheriff in the comedy "Porky's" and became a hit on the small screen as Emmanuel Lewis' adoptive father, George Papadapolis, in the sitcom "Webster."
"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.
Recently, his wife said Karras' quality of life has deteriorated because of head injuries sustained during his playing career.
Susan Clark said earlier this year that her husband couldn't drive after loving to get behind the wheel and couldn't remember recipes for some of the favorite Italian and Greek dishes he used to cook.
"This physical beating that he took as a football player has impacted his life, and therefore it has impacted his family life," Clark told The Associated Press earlier this year. "He is interested in making the game of football safer and hoping that other families of retired players will have a healthier and happier retirement."
Clark, who also played the wife of Karras' loveable character on "Webster," has said he was formally diagnosed with dementia several years ago and has had symptoms for more than a dozen years. He joined hundreds of other former players suing the league.
"It's the same thing as back in the gladiator days when the gladiators fought to death," Mitnick, who represents Karras and hundreds of others in the suit, has said. "Fans care about these guys when they're playing and they are heroes. But as soon as you're not a hero and not playing the fan doesn't really care what happens to them."