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80 Reasons to Love the Big Ten - No. 29 - Mongo

No. 29 - Mongo

We talked about the brilliant acting chops of Bubba Smith earlier, and now it's time to single out an Iowa Hawkeye All-American who moved onto both the big and small screen.

Alex Karras was a dominant force in Forrest Evashkevski's Hawkeye teams of the late Fifties.  As a Junior in 1956, Karras finished the Hawkeyes' 7-0 win over Ohio State with a game-ending sack.  That game clinched Iowa's first ever trip to the Rose Bowl.  In 1957, Karras won the Outland Trophy, and finished second in the Heisman voting, the highest ever finish for a Tackle.

Karras was the first round draft pick of the Detroit Lions, and made four Pro Bowls.

After his playing career ended, Karras worked the sidelines for ABC's Monday Night Football (back when that meant something), starred as the title character's adoptive-Dad on the sitcom Webster, and appeared in several movies.  Most notable was his star turn as the cowboy henchman "Mongo" in Blazing Saddles.  That's the movie that taught me that if you punch a horse, it will fall down in the wrong direction.

Mongo is just pawn in the game of life.