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Alex Karras among finalists for 2020 Hall of Fame class

Justin Rogers
The Detroit News

Allen Park — The long wait for Alex Karras' enshrinement into the Hall of Fame may finally be coming to an end. The former Detroit Lions defensive lineman was announced as one of the 38 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2020. 

Karras' chances are increased because the league has expanded this year's class to 20 as part of the NFL's centennial celebration. 

Alex Karras played for the Lions from 1958 to 1970, missing 1963 due to suspension for gambling.

Karras spent his entire 12-year career with the Lions after being selected by the franchise in the first round of the 1958 draft.

With the Lions, Karras was named a first-team All-Pro four times. In 1967 he was named to the All-Decade Team of the 1960s by the Hall of Fame.

While sacks weren't an official stat during his playing career, video review established he would have 97.5, making him the franchise's all-time leader. 

After his career, he went on to have a successful acting career, including roles in “Blazing Saddles” and the television show “Webster.” He died in October 2012.

Karras was suspended the 1963 season, along with Packers running back Paul Hornung, after admitting to gambling on NFL games. That suspension is often pointed to the primary reason Karras hasn't already been inducted. 

In addition to Karras, former Lions linebacker Ox Emerson and coach Buddy Parker are among the finalists for the Hall this year. 

Emerson began his career with the Portsmouth Spartans in 1931 and came with the franchise when it moved to Detroit in 1934. He earned All-Pro honors six consecutive seasons with the Spartans and Lions. 

Parker played with Emerson in Detroit in 1935 and 1936, before returning to coach the franchise from 1951-56. The team won two championships during that time, in 1952 and 1953. 

The list of 38 will be trimmed to 15 for enshrinement on Jan. 8. The final selections will include 10 players, two coaches and three contributors. 

jdrogers@detroitnews.com

Twitter: @Justin_Rogers