Curley Culp has a decision to make.
When Culp is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame next month, does he want to be known as a Kansas City Chief or a Houston Oiler/Tennessee Titan?
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Culp is leaning toward the Chiefs.
“I’m an NFL ballplayer who had an opportunity to start in Denver and end up in Detroit with stops in Kansas City and Houston,” Culp told me today during a national teleconference.
“If you asked me if I had to pick between the two, it’s a difficult choice, it’s one I haven’t made yet, but if you factor in the fact I was with a Super Bowl team (with the Chiefs) in 1969-70, I’m probably leaning more in that direction.”
Culp, a defensive tackle, was a disruptive force with the Chiefs during 1968-74, manning the middle of their famed Triple Stack defense. Culp lined up next to Hall of Fame defensive tackle Buck Buchanan and in front of Hall of Fame middle linebacker Willie Lanier, and Culp dominated Minnesota’s star center Mick Tingelhoff in the Chiefs’ 23-7 upset of Minnesota in Super Bowl IV.
Because Culp signed a futures contract with the ill-fated World Football League’s Southern California Sun in 1974, the Chiefs traded him to Houston for John Matuszak in what turned out to be one of the most one-sided deals in NFL history. The Chiefs also sent a 1975 first-round pick with Culp, and the Oilers used the sixth overall pick to select star linebacker Robert Brazile.
Culp spent 1974-80 with Houston and played an integral role in the revival of the Oilers under Bum Phillips. Culp, one of the first true 3-4 nose tackles with the Oilers, was a four-time Pro Bowler in Houston, but Kansas City remained a special place.
“The fans in Kansas City were like no other fans,” Culp said. “It was a fun time to be in Kansas City and win those games at Municipal Stadium and at Arrowhead Stadium.”
Culp was inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2008 and since that day was hopeful he’d eventually join Lanier, Buchanan, Bobby Bell, Emmitt Thomas, Len Dawson, Jan Stenerud, coach Hank Stram and owner Lamar Hunt in Canton one day.
“I’d visit with the other Hall of Famers,” Culp said of his annual visits to Chiefs alumni weekends, “and they told me to have faith and stay ready when that call comes.”
Culp’s induction on Aug. 3 will mark the first Hall of Fame ceremony he has attended.
“A lot of individuals have told me what’s going on,” he said. “I have an agenda of things to participate in; it’s going to be quite an event. It’s the 50th anniversary (of the Hall of Fame), about 120 or so Hall of Famers are going to be there … and the big parade and all the other festivities that will go along with that weekend. It’s going to be quite interesting.”
Culp didn’t hesitate when asked if he could go back and play one more snap, who would it be against?
“Probably Miami … if the outcome would have been different,” Culp said of the 1971 Christmas Day, double-overtime playoff loss to the Dolphins.
And if Culp could go back and play one more snap as an Oiler, he said he’d like to take another crack against guard Conrad Dobler, who resides in Johnson County.
“He was nasty,” Culp said. “I remember one game in the Astrodome there were some things going on that shouldn’t have been going on.”