The 300: #8 Curley Culp

Another week of The 300 begins with a man whose achievements almost went completely unnoticed in the modern NFL. 

NFL CAREER

Kansas City Chiefs (1968-1974)

Houston Oilers (1974-1980)

Detroit Lions (1980-1981)

 

POSITION

Defensive Tackle

 

WHY IS HE IMPORTANT

Curley Culp is one of those players who spent his career in the shadows. At college, he was not only a performer on the football field, he became a national wrestling champion, too. In the NFL, he turned that strength and mobility to good use, becoming one of the best defensive tackles of the early years of the modern League. This was despite being dismissed by scouts as being too small to be a defensive lineman and too slow to be a linebacker. He swiftly proved them wrong.

He was a key component of the defensive line when the Chiefs won their only Superbowl, back in 1970. Lining up at nose tackle, he was too big and too strong for Vikings center Mick Tingelhof to handle by himself, forcing Minnesota to radically alter their game plan, rendering their offense almost impotent.

After seven years in a Kansas team which never threatened to hit the same heights again, Culp decided to join the new World Football League in 1975, The Chiefs traded him to the Oilers, even giving up a first round pick in the process. In Houston, Culp enjoyed something of a career renaissance, leading Bum Phillips‘ new 3-4 defense and finishing on the winning team in seven of his first nine games.

The next year he was credited with 11.5 sacks, a new record for a nose tackle (the NFL only began recording sack statistics, but historic records suggest that Culp was responsible for at least 68 in his long career). He was voted Defensive Player of the Year that year. Over his next few seasons in Houston he became such a force of nature that teams would devote multiple players to stopping the man that many regarded as being the strongest opponent they had ever faced.

However, because he played for teams that were both unfashionable and not necessarily all that successful, Culp slipped from the limelight. It was not until 2008, when Chiefs president Clark Hunt – who had grown up watching Culp – inducted him into the Chiefs’ own Hall of Fame, that people began to appreciate exactly what he had achieved. Finally, he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013.

Richard O’Hagan

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Richard O'Hagan
Writer on such diverse topics as sport, music, theatre, law and politics. Author of 'Eddie the Sheep'. Supporter of underachieving teams, including the Chicago Bears from before that brief, heady, period in the mid-1980s when they were actually any good. All I want for Christmas is a Jim McMahon away shirt.
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    Another week of The 300 begins with a man whose achievements almost went completely unnoticed in the modern NFL.  NFL CAREER Kansas City Chiefs (1968-
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