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Canton calling former Yuma High alumnus
There's barely a hall of fame Curley Culp is not a member of.
The Arizona State University Sports Hall of Fame. The Arizona High School Hall of Fame. The National High School Sports Hall of Fame. The Arizona Wrestling Hall of Fame. The Arizona Sports Hall of Fame. The Kansas City Chiefs' Ring of Honor. The Yuma High Hall of Fame.
But the former Criminal, Chief and six-time NFL Pro Bowler still has a big hole in his hall of fame resume — the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Now the defensive tackle is a step away from a yellow jacket and a permanent spot in Canton, Ohio.
Culp was one of two nominees chosen by the Pro Football Hall of Fame's senior committee last month and will be among 17 finalists to be considered for induction in 2013. The 15 other finalists have not been selected yet.
“I was ecstatic,” Culp said, laughing as he recalled the day he found out. “It's a great privilege and I'm very excited, exuberated — what kind of adjectives do I need to say that I'm very pleased that I'm one of the finalists they're considering moving into the hall of fame this coming year.”
A player must get 80 percent of the vote to be enshrined, and between four and seven players will be taken from the final 17. Dave Robinson, a three-time Pro Bowler who played linebacker for Green Bay in the 1960s, was the other nominee from the senior committee. The inductees will be announced on Feb. 2, 2013, during Super Bowl week and inducted in August 2013.
“My fingers are crossed,” Culp said. “It's a journey. I have to do what I need to do. I have a lot of friends that are hall of famers, so I can tap the resources from them how to prepare myself adequately.”
Culp said he's been talking to former Chiefs teammates and hall of famers like Emmitt Thomas, Willie Lanier and Bobby Bell among others. It's those hall of fame connections that Culp said gave him optimism that one day he would be nominated.
“They all told me it was just a matter of time and they were pushing for me,” Culp said. “Now it's here. I'm very thankful and very pleased, very excited.”
At Yuma High, Culp played along both the offensive and defensive lines. He was a two-time state champion wrestler as well. He won a wrestling title with Arizona State while playing football for the Sun Devils.
Culp played for the Super Bowl IV champion Chiefs, and played on Bum Phillips' defenses in Houston. He briefly played with the Broncos and Lions as well and currently resides in Austin, Texas, where he runs a transportation business.
The competition to get into the hall will be fierce. The other finalists will be selected in November from a list that includes Steelers running back Jerome Bettis, Vikings receiver Cris Carter, coach Bill Parcells, commissioner Paul Tagliabue, offensive lineman Jonathan Ogden, defensive linemen Warren Sapp and Michael Strahan, running backs Terrell Davis and Roger Craig, and special teams standout Steve Tasker.
And while that's only a partial list of potential nominees that doesn't even include the likes of Charles Haley, Will Shields, John Lynch, Aeneas Williams and Ron Wolf, Culp said he feels he deserves to be wearing yellow next August.
“I passed the first hurdle — I'm a finalist,” Culp said. “It's out of my hands. It's up to the selection committee and hopefully they'll make the choice that's appropriate. I look forward to the outcome.”