Top 10 Moments of Curley Culp's Career

Russell S. BaxterContributor IJuly 31, 2013

NEW ORLEANS, LA - FEBRUARY 03:  Pro Football Hall of Famer Class of 2013 Curley Culp stands on the field during Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and the San Francisco 49ers at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome on February 3, 2013 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
Chris Graythen/Getty Images

The long wait is just about over.

Defensive lineman Curley Culp played his last game in the NFL in 1981. A mere 32 years later, he will receive the ultimate individual honor for any professional football player.

This weekend, Culp will enter the Pro Football Hall of Fame along with six other gridiron legends. Offensive linemen Larry Allen and Jonathan Ogden, wide receiver Cris Carter, defensive tackle Warren Sapp, linebacker Dave Robinson, coach Bill Parcells and Culp are now teammates forever.

Here we will take a look at 10 of the memorable moments of Culp’s magnificent career, not necessarily in chronological order. He played for a total of three teams in 14 seasons and those clubs spanned both the AFL and the NFL.

10. It was the Denver Broncos and not the Kansas City Chiefs that selected Culp in the second round (31st overall pick) in the 1968 NFL draft. The Arizona State product was a solid interior defensive lineman and also excelled on the mat. Culp was an NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion in 1968.

9. Culp wasn’t long for the Mile High City. The Broncos, who attempted to convert Culp to an offensive lineman, dealt him to the Chiefs a few months after drafting him and Kansas City returned him to the defensive side of the football. It would prove to be a very wise move indeed.

8. Did you know that Culp actually finished his career with the Detroit Lions? He would wind up playing a total of five games in two seasons for the team in the Motor City. Before that, Culp would play in a total of 174 games with the Chiefs (82) and Houston Oilers (92).

7. Traded again? In a somewhat shocking move, the Chiefs dealt Culp to the aforementioned Oilers during the 1974 season. But it proved to be a major coup for his new team, who would wrap up the season with a 7-7 mark. Exit head coach Sid Gillman and enter new sideline leader Bum Phillips, who would help elevate Culp’s game to new heights.

6. In Week 2 of 1975, the Oilers handled the visiting San Diego Chargers, 33-17, at the Astrodome. While the Houston offense rolled up 392 yards of offense on the afternoon, it was the Oilers defense that ruled the afternoon. Bum Phillips’ team held the Bolts to 204 total yards and Culp would tally the only touchdown of his career, returning a fumble by San Diego quarterback Jesse Freitas 38 yards for a score.

5. You are obviously never too old to learn some new tricks. Or is it picks? In his 10th season in the NFL, Culp intercepts Cleveland Browns quarterback David Mays in what proved to be a 19-15 victory by the Oilers in Cleveland in Week 13 of 1977. Houston would win five of its last seven games to finish the season at 8-6.

4. While Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Mel Blount was named the 1975 NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press, Culp was earning similar honors with the Oilers that same season from the Newspaper Enterprise Association. And his numbers were quite impressive considering he was playing nose tackle in the Oilers new 3-4 defensive scheme.

3. Speaking of the nose tackle position, Culp earned four trips to the Pro Bowl playing in that spot for the Oilers, including three straight invitations from 1977-79. Culp was also a two-time Pro Bowler with the Chiefs in 1970 and 1972 before his eventual trade to Houston.

2. It came in just his second season in professional football, but it is obviously a highlight of Culp’s impressive career. The Kansas City Chiefs 23-7 win over the Minnesota Vikings saw the talented defensive tackle total three tackles and an assist in a dominating win by Hank Stram’s team.

1. In 2013, Culp became the fifth member of those great Chiefs’ defensive units of his era to be enshrined in Canton. He joins linebackers Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell, defensive tackle Buck Buchanan and cornerback Emmitt Thomas in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The quintet all started for Kansas City in Super Bowl IV.