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Whether Tackles or Tinsel, He Took It All in With a Smile

Alex Karras had an illustrious playing career and three years on “Monday Night Football.” “To me, it was comical,” he told Newsday’s Joe Gergen of his TV days. “They’d hire these huge limos to take three people five blocks when we could just as easily have walked. I loved the pomp and ceremony connected with the show.

“I had a great time just watching everyone come in and out of the booth. Everywhere we’d go, someone famous would walk in. I remember John Denver, Hubert Humphrey, even John Wayne. In fact, Wayne took three cigarettes from me.”

He also learned about corporate America.

“One of the first things out of my mouth when I got on the air was about someone who made a great play,” Karras said.

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“I said, ‘Yeah, I saw him in college. He was such a great athlete that they gave him a Cadillac.’

“Immediately, I get this voice in my headset, ‘We work for the Ford Motor Co.’ ”

Mongo redux: Karras had roles in “Blazing Saddles” and “Victor Victoria” but found Hollywood no more sane.

“I remember walking into the office of Irwin Allen at 20th Century Fox,” he said. “He has this huge desk on a huge stand, flanked by Gothic pillars and he said, ‘How do I look?’

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“I said, ‘Ridiculous.’

“He laughed.”

Trivia time: From 1979-82, the Dodgers had four consecutive rookies of the year, none of whom is with them today. Identify them.

Warmup: When he was a Laker, Bob McAdoo was famous for missing training camp with one leg injury or another.

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Asked by a Laker employee one summer what it was likely to be this time, McAdoo said he was leaning toward an ankle injury.

The comment was passed on to a reporter, who printed it. Trying to keep General Manager Jerry West from seeing it, Laker officials bought every newspaper between the team’s Palm Springs hotel and the gym at College of the Desert.

Trivia answer: Rick Sutcliffe, Steve Howe, Fernando Valenzuela, Steve Sax.

Merely guessing: Al McGuire, coach of 1977 NCAA champion Marquette and a longtime network TV basketball analyst, recently predicted who will be on the U.S. Olympic basketball team, which will be announced today.

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McGuire’s choices: Charles Barkley, Larry Bird, Clyde Drexler, Patrick Ewing, Jim Jackson of Ohio State, Magic Johnson, Michael Jordan, Christian Laettner of Duke, Karl Malone, Chris Mullin, Scotty Pippen, Shaquille O’Neal of LSU, David Robinson, John Stockton and Isiah Thomas.

Add McGuire: “When it comes right down to it in Barcelona, I’ll take Yugoslavia to win the gold medal game--assuming their political problems don’t keep them out of the Games--in a photo finish over the United States.

“Other longshots? Maybe Spain, because it is on their blacktop, but (Ernest) Hemingway would have to be the referee for that to happen.”

Quotebook: Former Michigan coach Bo Schembechler, after Elvis Grbac’s fourth-and-inches touchdown pass against Notre Dame: “Every time I made that call, it was incomplete.”

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