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Examiner
  • Bill Althaus: Culp prepares for HOF induction

  • When I was a youngster growing up in Indepedence near 23rd Street and what is now U.S. Highway 291, my mom would drive me and my two brothers to William Jewell College, where the Kansas City Chiefs held training camp.

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  • When I was a youngster growing up in Indepedence near 23rd Street and what is now U.S. Highway 291, my mom would drive me and my two brothers to William Jewell College, where the Kansas City Chiefs held training camp.
    We'd fight to see who could get to Buck Buchanan or Ernie Ladd first as the massive defensive linemen walked to the field, because they always let us carry their helmets to the sidelines.
    A young defensive lineman, who always greeted us with a smile and a handshake, was a former Arizona State University star who was about to make a name for himself on the 1969 Super Bowl championship team.
    His name is Curley Culp, and Aug. 3 he will become the fifth Chiefs defensive player off that lone world championship team to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, Ohio.
    Culp held a national media conference call Thursday morning and said he has fond memories of his time in Kansas City.
    “The fans in Kansas City were unlike any other fans in the NFL,” Culp said, “they were the best. We loved them, and they loved to watch us play. You know, we started out in old Municipal Stadium (located at 22nd and Brooklyn in downtown Kansas City) and then went to that great Arrowhead Stadium.
    “At both places, it was like the fans were right on top of us, and we had so much success back then. Those were some great days.”
    Culp, 67, joins Buchanan, Bobby Bell, Willie Lanier and Emmitt Thomas as ohter players from that defensive unit to make it to the Hall of Fame.
    “I think we got our just dues,” he said when asked if that Chiefs unit has received the acclaim it deserves. “There was a lot of talent on that team. You mention the four Hall of Famers – and (defensive back) Jim Marsalis and I were the young pups on the defense.
    “We just listened and learned from those guys and absorbed it all in.”
    Culp just chuckled when asked about his NFL career had he not been traded by the Denver Broncos, who wanted to use the 6-foot-1, 265-pound selection on the offensive line.
    “I'd never played the offensive line in college, and I got to camp a little bit late because I played in the College All-Star Game,” Culp explained. “It would have been a difficult transition. Looking back, it couldn't have worked out any better.”
    The six-time AFC-NFC pro bowler (and one time AFL all-star) made a name for himself in Super Bowl IV, when the Chiefs upset the heavily favored Minnesota Vikings 23-7.
    Innovative coach Hank Stram lined Culp up on center Mick Tinglehoff's nose. The perennial pro bowl player could not block the Chiefs standout, thus requiring help from his Viking teammates.
    Page 2 of 2 - That allowed Buchanan and other Chiefs defenders to control the Viking running game and help Kansas City win the last-ever game between AFL and NFL opponents as the two leagues merged the following season.
    Culp, an NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion at ASU, spent seven seasons in Kansas City. He led the Chiefs in sacks in 1973 with nine (although it was not a recognized stat back then) and was considered one of the fastest linemen of his era.
    “A lot has changed since I was inducted into the Hall of Fame,” Culp said. “I've done a lot of interviews, received a lot of well wishes, it's been nice.”
    Bill Althaus is a sports writer and columnist for The Examiner. Reach him at 350-6333 or bill.althaus@examiner.net. Follow him on Twitter: @AlthausEJC
     

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