By Homero De la Fuente and Susannah Cullinane, CNN
Former Kansas City Chiefs and Houston Oilers legend Curley Culp died Saturday, according to a statement from his family. Culp was 75 years old.
“On behalf of our family and with a broken heart, I announce the passing of my husband, Curley Culp early this morning. We respectfully ask for privacy at this time,” his wife Collette Bloom Culp wrote on his Twitter account.
Earlier this month, Culp announced on his Twitter account he was diagnosed with Stage 4 pancreatic cancer.
“To my followers, family and friends I have stage 4 pancreatic cancer. Do donate to your local cancer organizations so this dreaded disease is eradicated. Love life, family and friends. Folded hands pray to God for all physical and spiritual healing. Love, Curley Culp HOF#13,” he wrote.
Culp was drafted out of Arizona State University where he was an All-American lineman, by the Denver Broncos in the 1968 NFL draft, and then traded to the Kansas City Chiefs before his rookie season.
After winning a Super Bowl championship and making the Pro Bowl in two of his first six seasons with the Chiefs, Culp was traded to the Houston Oilers in 1974. In Houston, Culp was moved to the nose tackle position and excelled under legendary coach Bum Phillips, making the All-Pro team his first year there and being elected to the Pro Bowl for four straight years.
Culp played a season and a half with the Detroit Lions between 1980-81, before retiring from the league.
The 14-year NFL veteran was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2013, after finishing his legendary career with 68.5 credited sacks in 179 career games.
“The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Curley Culp. He was a wonderful man of great integrity who respected the game of football and how it applied to everyday life,” Jim Porter, President of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, said in a statement on the museum’s website.
“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,” the statement continued. “Our thoughts and prayers are with Curley’s wife, Collette, and their entire family during this difficult time. The Hall of Fame will forever guard his legacy. The Hall of Fame flag will be flown at half-staff in Curley’s memory.”
In its statement, the museum quoted Culp on football’s applications off the field:
“I have learned that football is not just a sport, but a life lesson in what it means to be a team player,” it quoted him as saying. “I have learned how pain can build character and endurance and believe that life itself is like playing a very long and exciting football game where every play can determine the outcome.”
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