AL HAMNIK: Ted Karras Sr. has very special weekend worthy of a bookmark

2013-09-17T19:00:00Z 2013-09-18T05:28:03Z AL HAMNIK: Ted Karras Sr. has very special weekend worthy of a bookmarkAl Hamnik Times Columnist nwitimes.com
September 17, 2013 7:00 pm  • 

Hobart's Ted Karras Sr. was all smiles last weekend, though at the moment, those memories are fading fast.

Karras starred at offensive guard for the 1963 world champion Bears, who were honored at halftime of Sunday's game with the Vikings in this, the 50th anniversary of that very special season.

Saturday night, Ted, his wife, Anna, and son Jeff attended a dinner at the Chicago Hilton honoring the '63 players. There were enough memories, story lines and photos taken to write a best seller.

But Ted can't recall much. He's been battling Alzheimer's for some time now.

"I was glad to be there and see some of the guys," Karras said. "It was good. I liked that."

Many former Bears players were at the commemorative dinner including Jay Hilgenberg, who told Jeff and Anna that his father, Jerry, had coached brothers Alex and Paul Karras at the University of Iowa.

"What made it so special for Jeff is that it was his first alumni dinner," Anna said. "So he was able to go to the players and get their stories about his dad. Even the ball boys had nice things to say about Ted.

"We sat with Johnny Morris, Maury Youmans and (Hobart's) John Johnson. (T.F. North grad) Mike Tomczak came over to say hi."

Anna said approximately 15 members of the '63 team took part in the weekend festivities, sad when you consider most had passed away or were too ill to attend.

"The Bears treated these players very nicely. They really took care of them," Anna said. "They gave each a 50th anniversary ring with their name and uniform number on it. And Ted got a jersey with his name on it.

"They also had the '63 championship trophy there. It was such a fun weekend. I can't wait to get all our pictures back."

On Sunday, Jeff took his father down to field level for the player introductions. Ted walked out slowly, a cane in one hand, and carefully took his place in line.

Some of his teammates were in wheelchairs, but they all shared a smile as the Soldier Field crowd of more than 60,000 cheered each introduction.

"We did a good job that year," Ted said of the championship run. "We won games nobody thought we would. Nobody thought we could win the conference, and we won that, too.

"We had good coaches who made sure we all hung in there."

Karras played for George Halas and not long ago, could've told you stories about the curmudgeonly owner/coach that would double you up with laughter.

Asked if the '63 Bears were mean and possessed an "attitude," Karras shrugged.

"I never thought of it like that. You just wanted to win games and get a little recognition," he said.

There are now good and bad days for Ted Karras Sr. As good as last weekend was, he fights to hold onto those warm memories.

Ted had difficulty remembering it was son Jeff who accompanied him to the field for the team introduction.

"There's a lot of sad things about it," Ted Karras Sr. said. "Oh, God. It's tough. But things happen."

Let's hope all those photos, once he gets them, can help bring back that smile.

This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Reach him at al.hamnik@nwi.com

Copyright 2014 nwitimes.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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