Defensive tackle Curley Culp, an almost unblockable force in the middle of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl-winning defense, is one of two senior finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s class of 2013.
Culp, who was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2008, will join Green Bay Packers outside linebacker Dave Robinson as the other nominee selected by the seniors committee. They will be voted on separately from the slate of 15 yet-to-be-named modern-day nominees on Feb. 2, and only on rare occasions do the two senior nominees not get elected.
If Culp is elected, he would become the fifth member of the Chiefs’ defense from the 1970 Super Bowl win to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, joining defensive tackle Buck Buchanan, linebackers Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell and cornerback Emmitt Thomas. Quarterback Len Dawson, kicker Jan Stenerud, coach Hank Stram and owner Lamar Hunt also are in the Hall from that club.
Culp was at his best in the Chiefs’ 23-7 win over Minnesota in Super Bowl. The Chiefs, who normally played a 4-3 front, altered their defensive scheme against the Vikings to a 3-4 and put Culp over Minnesota center Mick Tinglehoff, who was effective but undersized for his position.
Culp, a former NCAA wrestling champion at Arizona State, was one of the quickest and strongest tackles in pro football and dominated Tinglehoff, helping the Chiefs control the line of scrimmage.
“His skills were immense,” Lanier said of Culp. “There was no doubt that Curley’s ability as a difference-maker was tremendous.”
Minnesota, coming off a 27-7 win over Cleveland in the NFL Championship Game, managed just 13 first downs and 67 yards rushing against the Chiefs.
Culp appeared in 82 games for the Chiefs after joining the club in 1968 in a trade with Denver, which had taken him as a guard in the second round of the 1968 draft. Culp, converted to defense by Stram, started 69 games and was selected to the AFL All-Star Game following the 1969 season and the Pro Bowl following the 1971 season.
Lanier recalled a pivotal game at Oakland when the Raiders had a third and 1 and elected to throw the ball rather than test Culp and the middle of the Chiefs’ defense. Lanier told fellow Hall of Famer, Oakland coach John Madden, recently that he was offended that the Raiders didn’t try to challenge the Chiefs’ defense with their future Hall of Fame linemen Jim Otto, Gene Upshaw and Art Shell.
“I didn’t think they were respecting us,” Lanier said, “and John said, ‘Willie, we did respect you. I didn’t think we could make a first down against you and Buck and Curley. ’ So they tried something else. But he was really talking about Curley.”
The Chiefs traded Culp to Houston in 1974, and he spent 1974-80 with Houston, making four Pro Bowls before finishing his career with Detroit in 1981. Culp was selected the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year by the Newspaper Enterprise Association in 1975.
Robinson helped the Packers win three straight NFL championships, including a victory in Super Bowl I against the Chiefs. Robinson, chosen to the NFL’s All-Decade Team of the 1960s, made 27 interceptions during his 155-game career.