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When Paul Karras heard the news Wednesday that his late brother, Alex, had been named to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the emotions and memories came pouring out.

"To tell the truth, I started crying," Paul Karras said by phone from Florida. 

Then Paul Karras recalled the day his father died, more than 70 years ago.

"When we were kids, in 1948, I was 11 and (Alex) was 13," Paul said. "My father died, he had a heart attack. 

"(Alex) and I went out on the porch and he said, 'I'll tell you one thing, I'm going to be a professional football player.'"

Gary native Alex Karras lived up to his promise, establishing himself one of the sport's dominant linemen while playing defensive tackle for the Detroit Lions from 1958-70.

Karras was a four-time All-State selection at Emerson High School before moving on to Iowa, where he was a two-time All-American, won the Outland Trophy — given to the nation's top college lineman — and finished runner-up in the Heisman Trophy balloting.

Paul Karras was a teammate of his brother at Iowa and saw up close just how dominant his older sibling was.

"I played third string and the third-stringers had to practice against the first string," Paul Karras said. "There would be the other people and there would be Alex."

In an era when most players never left the field, Alex Karras made clear his preference just to play defense.

"He loved it because he could have more wind and energy and focus harder," Paul Karras said. "Every play he could be 100 percent."

Then it was on to the NFL. Alex Karras was a four-time Pro Bowl selection, and was named First Team All-Pro three times and Second Team All-Pro four times. Karras was suspended for the 1963 season, along with Green Bay Packers running back Paul Hornung, for gambling. Both players were reinstated the next year, and Karras played seven more seasons before retiring.

Like his uncle Paul, Jeff Karras, one of Alex's nephews, was thrilled by Wednesday's news.

"This is a great achievement, the highest you can get," Jeff Karras said. "He's probably smiling down at us — or laughing."

Jeff Karras said his uncle didn't spend a lot of time thinking about accolades.

"He wasn't walking around, saying, 'I wish I was in the Hall of Fame,'" Jeff Karras said. "We think it should have happened, for sure."

Alex Karras later went on to a career in acting and broadcasting. He starred as Mongo in Mel Brooks’ iconic comedy “Blazing Saddles” and as the title character’s father in the TV series “Webster.”

Karras also was part of the Monday Night Football broadcasting crew.

He died in 2012 at the age of 77.

Karras was one of 13 members of the 15-person class announced on Wednesday. Former Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, former NFL Films President Steve Sabol and former New York Giants General Manager George Young also were selected, along with a pair of former Bears: tackle Jim Covert and defensive end Ed Sprinkle.

Other former players picked were: Pittsburgh Steelers safety Donnie Shell, Dallas Cowboys safety Cliff Harris, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Harold Carmichael, Green Bay Packers defensive back Bobby Dillon, New York Jets tackle Winston Hill, Chicago Cardinals tackle Duke Slater and Cleveland Browns wide receiver Mac Speedie.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.

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