Curley Culp, a Hall of Fame nose tackle who starred for the Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers, has died, his wife announced on Twitter. He was 75.
Culp had announced in November he was diagnosed with Stage IV pancreatic cancer.
Culp’s widow, Collette Bloom Culp, used her late husband’s Twitter feed to announce his death.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Curley Culp,” Hall of Fame president Jim Porter said in a statement. “He was a wonderful man of great integrity who respected the game of football and how it applied to everyday life. Curley’s humility and grace were always apparent. He loved the Hall of Fame — always proudly wearing his Gold Jacket as he visited Canton many times following his election in 2013.”
Curley Culp was a second-round draft pick of the Denver Broncos in 1968, but was traded to the Chiefs during training camp. Primarily a defensive tackle, Culp made the move to nose tackle during Kansas City’s Super Bowl IV victory over the Minnesota Vikings as the team successfully experimented with the 3-4 defense that was relatively new to the NFL at the time.
After six seasons with the Chiefs, Culp was traded to the Oilers prior to the start of the 1974 season. A year later, Culp was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year and made the All-Pro first team for the only time in his career, as he thrived while playing in Bum Phillips’ 3-4 scheme.
Culp was released by the Oilers during the 1980 season and was picked up by the Detroit Lions. He finished out the 1980 season with the Lions before retiring after the 1981 season.
Culp was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013. The Arizona native was also named the state’s greatest athlete in 2006, as part of the state’s centennial celebration. In addition to being a standout on the football field while at Arizona State, Culp was also the NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion in 1967.