AFC West: 2013 Hall of Fame

Curley Culp knows he’s an NFL name of the past.

He knows there are a couple of generations of NFL fans who might not know who he is. But it doesn’t matter, because on Saturday Culp will officially become an NFL immortal when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Culp was a Senior Committee nominee.

Culp played for the Kansas City Chiefs from 1968-74. He went on to play seven seasons in Houston and two more in Detroit, but he became known as a dominant interior defensive lineman while with the Chiefs.

Culp, who won the NCAA heavyweight wrestling title while at Arizona State, was a unique player. In the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV win against Minnesota, Hall of Fame coach Hank Stram put Culp over the center, which opened up plays for future Hall of Famers Buck Buchanan and Willie Lanier. Many people credit it for the beginning of the 3-4 defense.

At 67, Culp is a member of the Chiefs’ Hall of Fame, and he has close ties with the organization.

While the spotlight Saturday will be on NFL household names such as Warren Sapp, Cris Carter and Bill Parcells, Culp, who runs a car service in Austin, Texas, knows he will be a blast from the past when his son Chad presents him into the Canton, Ohio, museum.

“To me, it seems just yesterday,” Culp said in a July phone interview. “But it’s been four decades. That’s a long time. I’m just very grateful to get this honor. It crosses my mind at least once or twice a day. I realize what an honor it is, and it’s very exciting to know that it is finally coming.”

No AFC West Hall of Fame shockers

February, 2, 2013
2/02/13
6:33
PM ET
There weren’t any AFC West surprises Saturday when the 2013 Pro Football Hall of Fame class was announced.

Curley Culp and Warren Sapp were the favorites of the four finalists with AFC West ties, and they ended up in the Hall of Fame class. Former Oakland receiver Tim Brown and former Kansas City guard Will Shields did not get into the final 10. They were both considered long shots.

Culp, a senior committee nominee, played his first seven of a 16-year career in Kansas City. Sapp played his final four seasons in Oakland. Sapp did little with the Raiders and will always be remembered as a Tampa Bay Buccaneer.

Culp does have legitimate AFC West ties. He was a key part of the Chiefs’ Super Bowl IV-winning team. He was considered the first real 3-4 nose tackle. Culp is in the Chiefs Hall of Fame, and he participates in alumni programs. His election Saturday will be embraced and celebrated in Kansas City.

“On behalf of the entire Chiefs family, we’d like to congratulate Curley Culp on his induction into the Pro Football Hall of Fame,” Chiefs owner Clark Hunt said in a statement. “Curley was a dominating force on the defensive line for the Super Bowl IV championship team and one of many great players that helped build the tradition and foundation of the Kansas City Chiefs. … We look forward to seeing him take his rightful place in Canton.”

Saturday’s developments are disappointing for Brown and Shields, but there are silver linings for both. Cris Carter finally gained election, so the receiver logjam lessened. I still think Andre Reed might get in before Brown.

There has been some chatter that Brown’s recent comments that former Oakland coach Bill Callahan “sabotaged” the team’s Super Bowl loss to the Buccaneers 10 years ago might have hurt his chances. Brown was considered a long shot prior to causing that firestorm.

Shields was likely blocked by first-year nominee Larry Allen, who gained election. With Allen in, I can see Shields getting elected in the next couple of years.

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