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Lions Legend Alex Karras elected to Hall of Fame

The long wait is over for Detroit Lions all-time great defensive tackle Alex Karras to take his place in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Karras, a Lion from 1958-70, has been voted into the Hall of Fame as part of the National Football League's 15-member Centennial Class of 2020. The Centennial Class is in addition to five modern era members who will be voted on by the Selection Committee on Feb.1, the day before Super Bowl LIV.

The announcement of the Centennial Slate was made Wednesday on the NFL Network.

Karras, who passed away in 2012, is a storied figure in NFL history for his play on the field for the Lions and his future endeavors off it. He had a successful career as an actor and broadcaster on Monday Night Football after his retirement from football.

His Hall of Fame credentials are undeniable: First team Associated Press All Pro three times and second team four times, four Pro Bowls and a member of the 1960s All Decade team.

There has been speculation that a suspension for the 1963 season for gambling on sports kept Karras out of Canton. However, Packers running back Paul Hornung also was suspended for gambling that year but was elected to the Hall of Fame in 1986.

Karras came to the Lions in 1958 as a first-round draft pick out of Iowa, where he was a two-time All-American and winner of the 1957 Outland Trophy as college football's best lineman.

At 6-2 and 248 pounds, Karras was slightly undersized for defensive tackles of his era, although it was long before interior linemen routinely tipped the scales at 300 pounds-plus.

Karras was lightning quick getting off at the snap, and he had a nose for the ball – and for quarterbacks.

The NFL did not recognize sacks as an official statistic until the 1982 season, but Karras' proficiency at getting to quarterbacks has been documented by noted historian John Turney of Pro Football Journal. Turney's research credits Karras with between 100 and 110 career sacks, based on available data.

Karras played on the Lions' famed Fearsome Foursome defensive line of the 1960s that included Roger Brown, Darris McCord and Sam Williams.

The unit turned in one of the most celebrated performances in franchise history by sacking Green Bay Packers legend Bart Starr 11 times in a 26-14 win at Tiger Stadium on Thanksgiving Day of 1962. It was a revenge game for the Lions for a 9-7 loss to the mighty Packers earlier in the season.

Aside from his one-year suspension, Karras missed only one game in his career. He played 161 games, with 156 starts. He was released before the 1971 season and retired from football.

The entire 20-member Hall of Fame Class of 2020 will be recognized during Enshrinement Week at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton. The five modern-era inductees, which includes players, coaches and contributors, will be inducted on Aug. 8.

The 10 seniors on the Centennial Slate will be formally enshrined in Canton during the Centennial Celebration Sept. 16-19.

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