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Webster’s Dad Died Yesterday

Remember Webster? It was ABC’s answer to NBC hit Diff’rent Strokes. Basically, both shows featured a cute black kid who will never physical grow up. He was non-threatening and popular with white folks.

Former Detroit Lions standout and National Football League great, Alex Karras, who later became a TV star, has died, ABC News has learned.

English: C13387-9, Nancy Reagan on the set of ...

English: C13387-9, Nancy Reagan on the set of television show “Different Strokes” with Conrad Bain, Gary Coleman, Todd Bridges, Dana Plato, and Mary Jo Cattlett. 3/9/83. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The 77-year-old former defensive tackle died at his home in Los Angeles, surrounded by his family, following recent kidney failure.

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

After the news broke Tuesday that Karras had only a few days to live, his former team extended 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.

“Perhaps no player in Lions history attained as much success and notoriety for what he did after his playing days as Alex,” the statement read. “We know Alex first and foremost as one of the cornerstones to our Fearsome Foursome defensive line of the 1960s. Many others across the country came to know Alex as an accomplished actor and as an announcer during the early years of Monday Night Football.”

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

His wife, Susan Clark, who also played his wife on “Webster,” told the Associated Press earlier this year that Karras had showed symptoms of dementia for years.

“This physical beating that he took as a football player has impacted his life, and therefore, it has impacted his family life,” Clark said. “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 also said that Karras could no longer do some of the things he loved, including drive or remember how to prepare his favorite recipes. He joined the class action against the NFL six months ago.

Some of his former Lions teammates have shared their thoughts on Karras’ state.

“If there’s a miracle out there, you have to call upon it,” Hall-of-Fame linebacker Joe Schmidt told the Detroit Free Press. “It’s one of those things I’ve gone through with quite a few guys I played with have passed.”

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, that 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.

If a loved one was the victim of wrongful death that was caused by negligence or some other form of reckless behavior, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.


Devon Walker May Never Walk Again

The curiously named Devon Walker may soon join the ranks of football players whose careers have been cut short because of paralysis. Two years ago, it happened to college football player Eric LeGrand. It has also occurred repeatedly in the NFL. Darryl Stingley, who was a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, was paralyzed in a 1978 preseason game against the Oakland Raiders. More than 13 years later, Mike Utley, an offensive lineman for the Detroit Lions, was paralyzed during a game against the Minnesota Vikings. A year later, the same would happen to Dennis Byrd, a defensive tackle for the New York Jets. Byrd was paralyzed during a game against the Kansas City Chiefs. More recently, Kevin Everett, a tight end for the Buffalo Bills, was paralyzed in a 2007 game against the Denver Broncos.

Out of all these players, the only ones who have been able to regain their ability to walk have been Byrd and Everett. The others are confined to wheelchairs.

Tulane University, New Orleans, in 1904. Gibso...

Tulane University, New Orleans, in 1904. Gibson Hall. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Loved ones and teammates of a Tulane University football player who fractured his spine while making a tackle will face an agonizing wait to learn how serious the injury is and whether it will leave him paralyzed.

Senior safety Devon Walker was in stable condition and recovering in an intensive-care unit after a three-hour surgery to stabilize his spine at St. Francis Hospital, said Dr. Greg Stewart, Tulane’s director of sports medicine.

“These kind of injuries take 24, 48, sometimes 72 hours to fully declare themselves,” Stewart said before the surgery. “We don’t know what the long-term implications and outcomes are going to be.”

Stewart said he was with Walker on the field, in the ambulance and at the hospital after the injury Saturday. He said Walker was put into a cervical collar and couldn’t see much of what was happening, so Stewart explained what was going on. Walker was talking with doctors as he was being treated, Stewart said.

Walker’s parents had traveled to Oklahoma to be with their son, and they were “doing as well as can be expected,” Stewart said.

“They’re like the rest of us — hopeful and prayerful.”

Stewart was back in New Orleans on Sunday, as were Walker’s teammates. He said Tulane’s athletic director and the football team’s trainer remained in Oklahoma with Walker.

Walker’s injury occurred on the final play of the first half, hours after Tulane opened the Conference USA portion of its schedule against Tulsa. Tulsa was leading 35-3 and facing a fourth-and-2 with the ball at the 33-yard line on Saturday when the Golden Hurricane called timeout. Tulane then called timeout.

When play resumed, Tulsa quarterback Cody Green tossed a short pass to Willie Carter, who caught it at about the 28, and turned upfield. He was tackled around the 17-yard line, with defensive tackle Julius Warmsley and Walker sandwiching him and apparently smashing their helmets together.

Medical personnel from both teams tended to Walker as he lay on the field. FOX Sports reported a hush went over the crowd at H.A. Chapman Stadium as Walker was attended to, and that several coaches were in tears as he was taken away in an ambulance. Spectators bowed their heads as someone on the field led the stadium in prayer.

Dr. Buddy Savoie said during a postgame news conference that Walker never completely lost consciousness and was breathing on his own.

“He was stable when we transported him,” Savoie said. “I do not think, based on the information we have, his life was ever in danger.”

Walker is a senior majoring in cell and molecular biology. His brother, Raynard, told The Associated Press on Saturday that their mother was watching the game on television when her son was injured.

Tulane head coach Curtis Johnson said after the 45-10 loss that while Walker was on the field, Johnson told Walker that he was praying for him and that help was on the way.

He said the mood among players was somber and called the day his most difficult ever.

“It was tremendous that they finished the game, as I thought about just saying ‘Hey look, let’s not do anything else. Let’s just get on the road and go.’”

If a loved one was the victim of a serious accident that was caused by negligence or some other form of reckless behavior, it is important that you contact a committed and dedicated personal injury lawyer to help you decide if you should file a lawsuit. A competent and reputable injury lawyer can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your pain and suffering.