Why Joe Schmidt thinks Alex Karras belongs in the Hall

Alex Karras photo courtesy of the Detroit Lions

Former Detroit star Alex Karras is one three all-decade tackles from the 1960s … but the only one not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Worse, he’s never been discussed as a finalist.

Yet Karras is deserving. He holds the Lions’ record for sacks with 97-1/2, a mark that has stood for four decades, and he did that as a defensive tackle in an era when quarterbacks averaged 20-25 passes a game. Moreover, he was a nine-time All-Pro, including four first-team nominations, and missed only one game in 12 NFL seasons.

But Alex Karras also was suspended a season because of gambling, and that not only hurt his Hall-of-Fame candidacy; it may have sabotaged it.

At least, that’s the view of Hall-of-Famer,  Joe Schmidt, one of the greatest middle linebackers in NFL history and a Lions’ teammate of Karras. Schmidt joined the Talk of Fame Network this week and was asked about Karras and his failure to reach Canton.

“Because of the gambling thing and what he said and so forth and so on, I don’t think they would ever even consider (it),” he said of Karras reaching the Hall. “I believe he was up for the Hall of Fame one time, but I was told by people in the NFL that he would never grace the halls of Canton.

“Do I think they had their minds made up because of the circumstances involved? I think he was one of the best that ever played, but, unfortunately, that will never be recognized.”

Maybe, except former Green Bay running back Paul Hornung was also suspended in 1963 for gambling, and he was named to Canton. Hornung is another member of the 1960s’ all-decade team, but, more importantly, a member of a Green Bay club that dominated the decade, winning five championships in seven years.

So the bottom-line question: If Schmidt had a Hall-of-Fame pass to give to someone … anyone … not in Canton, would Karras be that guy?

“Oh, yeah, no question about that,” he said. “He killed the Green Bay guards (in the 1962 Thanksgiving Day Massacre, Green Bay’s only loss that season). I don’t know if he had four sacks or what.

“When he made his mind up, and he got in the groove I don’t think there was anybody who could block him. He was just so quick and so fast. He had natural ability. Just a great football player, but, unfortunately, they’re not going to change the rules and he’s not going to grace the halls.”

Again, maybe. But Karras is eligible for Canton as a senior candidate, and maybe, just maybe, with the backing of people like Joe Schmidt he gains the attention … and support … of the senior committee.

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  1. Tom K
    July 1, 2017

    One of the biggest snubs there is. I know Vince Lombardi once said that the 2 players that gave him the most troubles were Dick Butkus and Alex Karras. Such high praise from a legendary coach.

  2. bachslunch
    July 1, 2017

    It’s the gambling suspension that’s keeping Alex Karras out, no question. His honors are good for the time at his position (4/4/60s) and he grades out well at Ken Crippen’s film study site. Given the large number of PFHoFers in who would flunk a BBHoF character clause test (the PFHoF does not have one and is explicit about it), there’s no reason to exclude him. Except of course for the sheer number of qualified Senior snubs, that is.

  3. Sam Goldenberg
    July 15, 2017

    If I had a vote for the 2 Senior Committee members this year it would be Jerry Kramer and Alex Karras. Both should be judged by what they accomplished on the field. Both were dominant, great players.

  4. Brad
    January 8, 2018

    I saw Roger and Alex in their primes with the Lions, and I’m not from Detroit and Lions aren’t my favorite team. As Pete Rose might say, “If Roger Brown AND Alex Karras are not in the HOF then there ain’t no Hall of Fame.” And to tell you the truth, I’d rather watch these guys than eat my Thanksgiving day meal!
    I’m going to have to write to the NFL and/or the football HOF in Canton, Ohio to see if I can help get this glaring mistake taken care of.

  5. leonard hagan
    January 14, 2018

    yes he is a hall of famer for sure

  6. Michael Swanson
    August 24, 2018

    Alex Karas is not in the HOF because he did not ‘apologize’ and kiss Pete Rozelle’s ass when he came back in 1964, bottom line. Hornung did, and Hornung was the golden boy who played on ‘God’s’ team, the Packers. Karas and Jim Marshall should have been in the Hall decades ago!!

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