Alex Karras was recently released from a California hospital after having kidney failure so he could spend his final days with family.

"He may be dying of kidney failure because now his body is catching up to the deterioration of his mind," Craig Mitnick, Karras' attorney in a lawsuit against the NFL, told The Associated Press on Tuesday afternoon.

The 77-year-old former defensive tackle and actor, who was born and raised in Gary, Ind., has been surrounded by his wife and kids at his home in Los Angeles.

In his day, Karras was one of the NFL's best defensive tackles. The Detroit Lions drafted Karras 10th overall in 1958 out of Iowa and he was a four-time All-Pro over 12 seasons with the franchise.

Karras became a bit of a celebrity through George Plimpton's behind-the-scenes book about what it was like to be an NFL player in the Motor City, "Paper Lion: Confessions of a Second-string Quarterback." That led to Karras playing himself in the movie adaption, and it opened doors for him such as being an analyst alongside Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford on "Monday Night Football."

Karras had a well-known appearance as Mongo in the 1974 movie "Blazing Saddles" and was a star in the 1980s sitcom "Webster."

He took on another role this year as lead plaintiff in a complaint against the NFL by ex-players who claim the league didn't do enough to protect them from head injuries.

"Alex's decision to get involved in this was for the right reasons — to help the game of football," Mitnick said.

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The 77-year-old former defensive tackle and actor, who was born and raised in Gary, Ind., has been surrounded by his wife and kids at his home in Los Angeles.

In his day, Karras was one of the NFL's best defensive tackles. The Detroit Lions drafted Karras 10th overall in 1958 out of Iowa and he was a four-time All-Pro over 12 seasons with the franchise.

Karras became a bit of a celebrity through George Plimpton's behind-the-scenes book about what it was like to be an NFL player in the Motor City, "Paper Lion: Confessions of a Second-string Quarterback." That led to Karras playing himself in the movie adaption, and it opened doors for him such as being an analyst alongside Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford on "Monday Night Football."

Karras had a well-known appearance as Mongo in the 1974 movie "Blazing Saddles" and was a star in the 1980s sitcom "Webster."

He took on another role this year as lead plaintiff in a complaint against the NFL by ex-players who claim the league didn't do enough to protect them from head injuries.

"Alex's decision to get involved in this was for the right reasons – to help the game of football," Mitnick said.

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  • Alex Karras

    In this Nov. 3, 1968 file photo, Los Angeles Rams' Henry Dyer, center left, is hit by Detroit Lions' Alex Karras (71) during an NFL football game in Los Angeles.

  • Tom Dempsey, Alex Karras, Bill Cody

    FILE - In this Nov. 8, 1970, file photo, New Orleans Saints' Tom Dempsey (19) moves up to kick a 63-yard field goal as teammate Joe Scarpati holds the ball, Detroit Lions' Alex Karras (71) rushes in, and Saints' Bill Cody (66) blocks, in New Orleans. The record-setting kick, with 2 seconds left in the game, gave the Saints a 19-17 win. Karras is taking on the role of lead plaintiff: He and his wife, Susan Clark, are two of 119 people who filed suit Thursday, April 12, 2012, in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the latest complaint brought against the NFL by ex-players who say the league didn't do enough to protect them from head injuries. (AP Photo/Files)

  • Alex Karras

    Jubilant Iowa players carry coach Forest Evashevski off the field on their shoulders after a 7-0 upset victory over Minnesota in Minneapolis, Nov. 10, 1956. Players include Alex Karras (77), John Burroughs (72), Dick Klein (70), Marion Walker (31), Dick Theer (62), and Ken Ploen (11).

  • Alex Karras

    Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Bobby Layne (22) looks anxiously for a pass receiver as he is rushed by Detroit Lions Alex Karras (71), right, over the top of a blocker in the second half of game, Sept.16, 1962, Detroit, Mi.

  • Alex Karras

    Charley Harraway, 31, of the Washington Redskins carries for four yards in the second period. Detroit players include Wayne Rasmussen, 47; Alex Karras, 71; Lem Barney, 20, and Wayne Walker, 55. No. 56 is Len Hauss on Oct. 11, 1970 in Washington. (AP Photo)

  • Alex Karras

    Photo shows the broadcasting team for the ABC television network's 'NFL Monday Night Football' series features (left to right) Alex Karras, Howard Cosell and Frank Gifford on November 1975.

  • Alex Karras

    This Nov. 1, 1970 file photo shows Minnesota Viking's Dave Osborn (41) being tackled by Detroit Lions' Dick LeBeau (44), during a football game in Detroit. Also shown are Lions' Alex Karras (71) .

  • Karras Turner Crystal

    FILE - In this Jan. 31, 1985, file photo, "Saturday Night Live" actor Billy Crystal, center, in character as "Fernando," is flanked by host Alex Karras, left, and musical guest Tina Turner during a rehearsal in New York. Karras is taking on the role of lead plaintiff: He and his wife, Susan Clark, are two of 119 people who filed suit Thursday, April 12, 2012, in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the latest complaint brought against the NFL by ex-players who say the league didn't do enough to protect them from head injuries. (AP Photo/Marty Lederhandler, File)

  • Alex Karras

    University of Iowa tackle Alex Karras is shown, 1956.