Curley Culp Detroit Lions & Kansas City Chiefs & Houston Oilers
"I have learned that football is not just a sport, but a life lesson in what it means to be a team player…I have learned how pain can build character and endurance, and believe that life itself is like playing a very long and exciting football game where every play can determine the outcome."
, an All-American in football and wrestling at Arizona State, was selected in the second round of the 1968 draft by the Denver Broncos. The team attempted to switch him to guard on offense and when the experiment did not work, Denver ultimately dealt him to the Kansas City Chiefs where he instantly became an integral part of the club’s dominating defense.
In his second pro season, he helped the Chiefs win Super Bowl IV. He started at left defensive tackle in the 1969 AFL Championship Game and contributed four tackles, two assists, and a sack as the Chiefs downed the Oakland Raiders 17-7. He then added three tackles and one assisted tackle in Kansas City’s 23-7 victory over the Minnesota Vikings in the Super Bowl.
After six-plus seasons in Kansas City, Culp was traded in 1974 to the Houston Oilers as part of a blockbuster trade. It was with Houston that he began to gain perennial acclaim for his consistent high level of play. Almost instantly Culp helped transform the Oilers from losers to contenders. In his first full season with the Oilers, the team finished with a 10-4-0 record which was the first winning mark for the club in eight years and just the second in 13 seasons.
He was the anchor of the Oilers who had the top ranked defense against the run in the AFC, and third in the entire NFL, in 1975. Culp recorded arguably his finest season as he chipped in with 11.5 sacks and was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year by the Newspaper Enterprise Association.
Culp continued as a leader of the Oilers defense that culminated in back-to-back appearances in the AFC championship games in 1978 and 1979. He was named to one AFL All-Star Game and five Pro Bowls during his career. Culp also was picked as a first-team All-Pro in 1975 and a second-team selection in 1971, 1977, 1978, and 1979. He was selected first- or second-team All-AFC five times.
He played in 179 career games that included a final stint with the Detroit Lions.