Thursday, October 11, 2012

10.11.12 Heroes of the day: Budd Lynch and Alex Karras

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Name: Budd Lynch
Age: was 95
Occupation: Detroit Red Wings public address announcer
Last Seen: Detroit, Michigan

Name: Alex Karras
Age: was 77
Occupation: actor and football great
Last Seen: Los Angeles

Awarded For: being two of Detroit's greatest sportsmen

Right now, Detroit is having some good times and some bad times in the world of sports.

The Detroit Tigers are in the playoffs against the Oakland A's in the ALDS, but the Lions are 1-3 on the season, the Red Wings might not even have a season and the Pistons, well, are the Pistons.

But sadly, the world of Detroit sports lost two of its greats in just two days: Budd Lynch and Alex Karras.

Most people probably aren't familiar with Lynch, but are definitely with Karras. Lynch was the long-time public address speaker for the Red Wings, even working in TV and radio calling games. But it was the PA that made Lynch a star and fan favorite. Every time he announced his retirement, the Ilitch family fought tooth and nail to keep him on board. His calm, soothing voice gave attendees a pure sense of home every time they visited the Joe. But, he was fair. He even admitted that his favorite all-time player was none other than the great Gordie Howe.

But it was The Mad Duck that everybody knew. He was one of the most intimidating linebackers to ever wear Honolulu Blue with his nearly-12-year stint with the Lions. He was sidelined for a season in 1963 because of a gambling scandal, but that was nothing. He was a four-time Pro Bowler and *actually* got the team into the playoffs one year.

When he retired in 1970, his acting career started to take off and in 1974, he made his best-known performance on the silver screen as the tough, yet dumb Mongo in the 1974 classic Blazing Saddles. He even did a three-year stint co-hosting Monday Night Football and acted in a few more movies such as Victor/Victoria and Porky's. But in 1983, he was finally able to show his soft side thanks to a TV show he helped create with his wife Susan Clark about a former football player who adopts a young black boy from one of his teammates after he dies in an auto accident. That show was, of course, Webster.

In recent years, Karras' health deteriorated thanks to fights with stomach cancer, kidney failure and dementia. Susan Clark told a family friend, Detroit car dealer Tom McInerney that Karras only had days to live, and that he was in hospice. He passed away yesterday, just one day after Lynch's passing at the age of 95.

It was also noted that Karras was one of some 3,500 former NFL players suing the league for years of head injuries brought on by the lack of safety features their equipment had. It might not come as a surprise that Karras' injuries led to his health problems.

For many Detroit sports fans, both Lynch and Karras brought on years of memories. Lynch will forever be remembered for his many years of loyalty to the Red Wings while Karras will be remembered as probably one of the best players the Lions ever had, and Mongo and yes, Emmanuel Lewis' dad. Both will be deeply missed by Detroit sports fans and all mankind alike.

And neither were a pawn to the game of life.


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