The Karras name is a storied one in the NFL. Ted Karras III follows the path of a career in football set forth by his father, his grandfather and his great uncles. This month, Ted again followed in his family's footsteps.
The American Hellenic Educational Progressive Association [Order of AHEPA] named its 2021 Hall of Fame class and honorees, and Ted was announced as the 2021 Harry Agganis Most Outstanding Athlete Award.
Agganis, known as "The Golden Greek," was a multi-sport athlete, playing for the Boston Red Sox in the 1950s. Agganis passed away suddenly at 26 due to a pulmonary embolism. The former Boston University quarterback was born and raised in Lynn, Mass., and made a career playing for his hometown team. Even though Agganis died tragically and so young, his legacy is long-lasting.
When he heard that he was named the 2021 Harry Agganis Most Outstanding Athlete, Karras said he was honored.
"It's pretty cool to get his namesake award," Karras said. "I was pretty taken aback when I got this to be honest. This is something I take very seriously."
As a fellow Greek-American and New England athlete, this honor already means a great deal to Karras. It means even more when he considers his family's own ties to the Order of AHEPA. His great uncle, Pro Football Hall of Famer Alex Karras, earned the same honor in 1957, and Alex, his grandfather Ted Karras Sr. and another great uncle Louis Karras are all members of the AHEPA Athletics Hall of Fame.
"It's cool to keep the legacy going. Such a big part of my life has been football. Looking at family members my whole life and hearing their stories of playing in the NFL, it's something I always wanted to do," Karras said. "Now with the Order of AHEPA, it's a great pleasure of mine to continue kind of the Greek legacy too. My great grandfather came over from Greece in the early 1900s. We've always been in athletics since. I feel very blessed to be still playing football just in general. It's been the realization of a lot of my life goals. I still have more to accomplish, but this has been great."
The Order of AHEPA was founded in 1922 with the originally intention of helping Greeks in America assimilate, gain citizenship and combat prejudice. As it evolved, it shifted its focus to philanthropy, education and celebrating Hellenic identities of Greek people around the world. Karras credits Gregory Stamos, the chairman of AHEPA's Hellenic Athletic Hall of Fame, with leading the push to get Alex Karras in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. He was posthumously inducted in 2020.
Karras emphasized that the Order of AHEPA has meant a great deal to his family and done so much for them. Even though he won't be able to attend the awards ceremony in Athens this summer as it conflicts with training camp, he said it is a huge moment to share with his family from an organization that is deeply intertwined with their own legacy.
"I want to make my family proud for sure, and this is something that can quantify that. It's a very special award from a very illustrious institution and one with a very big community," Ted said. "The Greek community is obviously big. This is a huge organization and to be involved with them is enough. Then to be recognized for my family with our family name, I'm very honored to continue that and to carry the flag."