Crazy Canton Cuts = Curley Culp

JW NixSenior Writer IIMay 2, 2009

Curley Culp
6'2" 265
Defensive Tackle
Kansas City Chiefs
1968 - 1981 (
14 Seasons)
179 Games Played
13 Fumbles Recovered
1 Touchdown
6 Pro Bowls

Curley Culp was drafted in the second round by the Denver Broncos in 1968. He was the 31st player picked overall. Culp attended college at Arizona State University, where he was at first an offensive lineman before moving over to the defensive side of the line. By his senior year, Culp was named First-team All-American by both Time Magazine and the Sporting News in football. Culp was also the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion in 1967. Culp was also named to the 1968 U.S. Olympic wrestling team.

Curly Culp is a Charter Inductee of the ASU Sports Hall of Fame, which was created in 1975, and was named the Greatest Athlete in the history of Arizona during the state's centennial celebration in 2006.

Culp was was traded to Kansas City after the 1968 draft for a 4th round pick in 1969 draft. That pick turned out to be G Mike Schnitker from Colorado who played with the Broncos from 1969-1974. Culp found his way into nine games during his rookie year. Culp broke out in his second year in the AFL. He was named to his first Pro Bowl team and helped the Chiefs get to Super Bowl IV.

It was in that game the 3-4 defense was born. Hall of Fame Head Coach Hank Stram decided to put Culp right over Minnesota Center Mick Tingelhoff. Culps immense strength and quickness overwhelmed Tingelhoff to the point where Culp began to command double, sometimes triple teams. This freed Hall of Famers like Buck Buchanan, Willie Lanier, Bobby Bell, along with SS Johnny Robinson, to make plays as the Chiefs shut down the Vikings and won 23-7. Culp would go on to play the 1971 Pro Bowl. He was twice honored as the Associated Press Defensive Player of the Week during his tenure in Kansas City and led the 1973 Chiefs in sacks with nine.

Culp would play in Kansas City until the beginning of 1974. Culp had signed on to play in the World Football League for 1975, so he was traded four games into the season to the Houston Oilers in one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history. The Oilers acquired Kansas City's 1975 first round selection (which turned out to be OLB Robert Brazile), along with Culp, for Defensive End John Matuszak. Culp was the ingredient Houston needed to excel in the Oilers 3-4 defense.

Curley was named to the 1975 Pro Bowl and was chosen NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Newspaper Enterprise Association. Culp also received the George S. Halas Trophy after accumulating 11.5 sacks, an unheard of statistic for a Nose Tackle. Teamed with Hall of Fame DE Elvin Bethea and great linebackers like Brazile, Ted Washington Sr., and Gregg Bingham, Culp helped lead some excellent Oilers teams that went to a AFC Championship game. In 1975, Culp recovered a career high three fumbles and took one 38 yards for the only touchdown of his NFL career. In 1977, Culp snared the only interception of his career and rumbled 25 yards.

Culp was named to Pro Bowls from 1975 to 1978 while in Houston. In 1979, Culp was named Second Team All Conference by both the UPI and Associated Press. By 1980, Curley was battling injuries and started just five of ten games in Houston. The Oilers released him and he was claimed by the Lions. He finished that year in Detroit, starting in two of three games. Culp tried to play in 1981, but ended up playing just two games before retiring.

Curley Culpwas named by the Sporting News to the All-Century teams of both the Kansas City and Houston/Tennessee franchises. He was voted by a panel of former NFL players and coaches to Pro Football Weekly's All-Time 3-4 defensive team. Curley Culp was be inducted into the Kansas City Chiefs Hall of Fame at halftime of the Chiefs Alumni Game last fall. The Tennessee Titans are said to be working on creating their own team Hall of Fame. Curley Culp will certainly be inducted into it one day as well.

Trying to summarize Culp's career may be best said by his comrades. Chiefs Hall of Fame Center Jack Rudnay said, "Every center in the league should have to go against Curley in order to know what it’s like to go against the very best.” NFL Hall of Fame Center Jim Otto claimed, "Curley Culp was perhaps the strongest man I ever lined up against."

Culp was once reported to have broken the helmets of three teammates during a scrimmage at Arizona State University. Culphad tremendous leverage to go with his massive strength and superior quickness. There was a time some thought he benefited from lining next to Buchanan, but he showed in Houston that he was an unstoppable force still. Often facing multiple blockers each snap of the ball, Culpused his wrestling knowledge to sift through the opponents on his way to the ball. I find it amazing Culp hasn't been inducted.

He was the key person who popularized the 3-4 with his intelligence and abilities. Oilers Head Coach Bum Phillips said, "Curley made the 3-4 defense work. He made me look smart." Well, the NFL Hall of Fame voters certainly look anything but smart. You see politics involved too much in the Canton voting process. I've been told by certain voters that they are disgusted with this process themselves.

It is as if some voters don't want too many players from one team. Look how long it took for Chief Emmitt Thomas to get inducted, and how Chiefs legend Johnny Robinson somehow hasn't been yet. Culp did excel with two teams, so whatever the hold up is by the voters is unacceptable. Curley Culp should have been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame by now!

Notable Players Drafted In 1968 (* Denotes Canton Inductee)

1. Ron Yary, OT, Minnesota *
2. Bob Johnson, C, Cincinnati
3. Claude Humphrey, DE, Atlanta
4. Russ Washington, DT/ OT, San Diego
8. Larry Csonka, FB, Miami *
9. Haven Moses, WR, Buffalo
11. Greg Landry, QB, Detroit
13. MacArthur Lane, RB, St. Louis Cardinals
14. Tim Rossovich, LB, Philadelphia
15. Forrest Blue, C, San Francisco
23. John Williams, OT, Baltimore Colts
26. Bill Lueck, G, Green Bay
33. Charlie West, DB, Minnesota
42. Bob Atkins, DB, St. Louis
43. Bill Lenkaitus, C, SanDiego
47. John Garlington, LB, Cleveland
48. Mike Livingston, QB, Kansas City
52. Ken Stabler, QB, Oakland
69. Skip Vanderbundt, LB, San Francisco
73. Dick Anderson, DB, Miami
74. Charlie Sanders, TE, Detroit *
77. Elvin Bethea, DE, Houston Oilers *
80. Art Shell, OT, Oakland *
81. Dick Himes, OT, Green Bay
82. Paul Robinson, RB, Cincinnati
84. Jess Phillips, RB, Cincinnati
98. Johnny Fuller, DB, San Francisco
105. Jim Beirne, WR, Houston
110. Charlie H. Smith, RB, Oakland
117. Mike Bragg, P, Washington
118. Jim Kiick, RB, Miami
124. Mark Nordquist, G, Philadelphia
127. Cecil Turner, WR, Chicago
130. Blaine Nye, G, Dallas
156. Essex Johnson, RB, Cincinnati
159. D.D. Lewis, LB, Dallas
167. Oscar Reed, RB, Minnesota
176. Bob Brunet, RB, Washington
181. Willie Holman, DE, Chicago
190. George Atkinson, DB, Oakland
222. Paul Smith, DT, Denver
249. John Outlaw, DB, Boston Patriots
261. Tommy Hart, DE, San Francisco
275. Greg Brezina, LB, Atlanta
277. Marv Hubbard, RB, Oakland
288. Henry Davis, LB, NY Giants
289. Rich Coady, C, Chicago
291. Dennis Partee, K, San Diego
297. John Pergine, LB, LA Rams
301. Bob Trumpy, TE, Cincinnati
305. Jim Cheyunski, LB, Boston
317. Jeff Queen, RB, San Diego
323. Harold Jackson, WR, Los Angeles Rams
330. Charlie Greer, DB, Denver
351. Dean Halverson, LB, LA Rams
357. Marlin Briscoe, WR, Denver
375. Robert Holmes, RB, Kansas City
417. Rocky Bleier, RB, Pittsburgh
428. Larry Cole, DE, Dallas
441. Bob Lee, QB, Minnesota


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