Curley Culp was a Hall of Fame defensive player who led the Kansas City Chiefs to their first Super Bowl victory in a career of 14 years. He died on Saturday from complications due to pancreatic cancer. He was 75.
Culp revealed this month that Culp had been diagnosed as having stage 4 cancer. Collette Bloom Culp was his wife and announced the death of five-time All-Pro.
Curley Culp’s passing is deeply felt by the entire Pro Football Hall of Fame Family. Jim Porter, Hall of Fame president said that Curley Culp was an exceptional man of integrity and respected football’s application to daily life. “Curley’s humility and grace were always apparent.”
Culp, despite his strong play on the inside of the defense line, was considered to be one of the best players in the NFL. After the 1975 season, Culp was nominated for six Pro Bowls. He finished second behind Steelers cornerback Mel Blount to be named AP Defensive Players of the Year.
It wasn’t until long after his playing days — Culp retired in 1981 — that he was finally inducted into the Hall of Fame. Culp wore the gold jacket of a Hall of Famer everywhere he went, even after his 2013 enshrinement.
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Amy Adams Strunk (Titans controlling owner) stated that “our team definitely lost a great player today.” Curley was crucial to the success of the Luv Ya Blue days and a game-changer for our defense. Curley deserves a spot in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I had the opportunity to meet Curley and Collette at the Oilers Reunion this September.
“They also brought two of their young grandchildren for that weekend and Curley’s love for those two was very obvious. As a player, Curley will be forever remembered for his fierce nose tackle and Hall of Fame man off the field.
Culp was able to leverage his speed and agility while attending Arizona State. Culp was an All-American football player for the Sun Devils. He also won the national title in heavyweight wrestling at 6′ and 265 lbs.
Culp was selected by the Denver Broncos in the 2nd round of 1965 draft. They hoped to make him an offensive guard. They traded Culp to the Chiefs after it was clear this wasn’t going through. Hank Stram then plugged him in the middle of the defensive line, which would eventually take Kansas City to the Super Bowl.
Culp said that “I guess they proved me wrong” in a phone interview with The Associated Press. “A little fireplug, that’s me.”
Culp was part of an all-star defense which included Emmett Thomas and Willie Lanier as well as Bobby Bell, Buck Buchanan, and Bobby Bell. That group won a 23-7 win over the Vikings to end their famed run game.
Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt once said that Curley “was a dominant force on the defense line for Super Bowl IV champion team,” Lamar Hunt’s late father founded the team. “One among many great players who helped to build the Kansas City Chiefs tradition and foundation.”
Hall of Fame quarterback Len Dawson remembered Culp being “a tremendous player,” while Thomas described him as “ornery like hell.”
Culp was traded from the Oilers to them in 1974. He had his most memorable season of the next year. After the 1980 season, he stayed in Houston and then played one season in Detroit until announcing his retirement.
He was a regular attendee of Chiefs’ games later in his career and kept in touch regularly with former teammates. He was inducted into the team’s Hall of Fame in 2008, less than two years after Lamar Hunt’s death.
Funeral arrangements weren’t immediately available.