Tennessee Titans: 30 greatest players in franchise history

(Photo by Joe Murphy/NFLPhotoLibrary)
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Curley Culp, Houston Oilers
(Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images for Taste Of The NFL) /

. NT. (1975-80). Curley Culp. 11. player. 148

  • Pro Football Hall of Fame (Class of 2013)
  • 1975 NFL Defensive Player of the Year
  • First-Team All-Pro (1975)
  • 4x Pro Bowl w/Oilers (1975-78)
  • 3x Second-Team All-Pro w/Oilers (1977-79)

Curley Culp played nearly all of his Pro Football Hall of Fame career with two AFC franchises in the Kansas City Chiefs and the Oilers. Culp played his college ball at Arizona State University for the iconic Frank Kush in Tempe. Originally drafted by the Denver Broncos in 1968, he would need to switch teams to maximize his effectiveness as a player.

Culp was seen as too short (6-foot-1) to play along the defensive line for Denver and too big (265 pounds) for them to effectively play linebacker. Well, that proved silly, as he became a Pro Bowl player with the Chiefs in two of his first four years in the league.

Culp spent his first 6.5 seasons with Kansas City from 1968 to 1975 before being traded to the Oilers for defensive lineman John Matuszak and a 1975 first-round pick. Matuszak was the former No. 1 overall pick in the 1973 NFL Draft out of the University of Tampa. He would not reach his lofty draft status in Kansas City, while Culp and that future first-round pick, which was Robert Brazile, became Pro Football Hall of Famers with the Oilers.

This was one of the most lopsided trades in NFL history. Culp was named NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1975 with the Oilers, earning his first of four-straight Pro Bowls with the club. He made the All-Pro First-Team that season as well.

Culp ended up with six Pro Bowls to his name, with the latter four coming in Houston from 1975 to 1978. He made four All-Pro Teams during his time with the Oilers, a First-Team in 1975 and three Second-Teams from 1977 to 1979.

Halfway through the 1980 NFL season, Culp would be released by the Oilers and was then picked up by the Detroit Lions. He played his last 1.5 seasons with Detroit before retiring at the age of 35 after 14 years of professional football.

Overall, Culp finished with 68 unofficial sacks playing defensive tackle with 14 forced fumbles. He would be inducted into the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 2008 by Kansas City owner Clark Hunt. Culp had to wait a few more years, but eventually earned rightful Canton enshrinement.

In 2013, Culp was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, 32 years after he played his last snap in the NFL with the 1981 Lions. His Canton classmates include Larry Allen, Jonathan Ogden and Warren Sapp. Even with his career split relatively evenly between the Chiefs and the Oilers, Culp’s overall body of work was indeed worth of Canton enshrinement.