Tag Archives: topps 1976

Dryer, Fred ‘Hunter’

Cards: Topps 1971, Topps 1976
Acquired: TTM 2017, C/o Work

I think the first time I saw Fred Dryer was during the mid-80s. It was premiere week and NBC was eager to find a competing product to Magnum PI. They cast Fred Dryer as the lead in the TV show Hunter and the rest was history.  As a kid I never really knew about Fred nor was I observant enough to know that he was a former football player, but when I became aware of football and the LA Rams were fast becoming my favorite NFC team, I knew eventually I wanted to get Fred’s autograph.

A first round pick of the New York Giants in 1969 Fred wrecked opposing offensive lines from the start of his career recording 8.5 sacks in his first year from his defensive end position.  Considered a wild man by teammates, Fred lived out of a van and grew out his hair and beard. He even offered to set his hair on fire whenever he scored another TD later in his career.  In 1970, he had 12 sacks and 69 tackles earning his first Pro Bowl honors. After recording 8.5 sacks in 1971, Fred was traded to the New England Patriots for a bevvy of picks. Refusing to report, the Patriots were left with no choice but to deal Fred to the Los Angeles Rams.

During his 1972 season, the Rams used Fred as one of the first situational pass rushers. He’d put up 4.5 sacks. LA started him full time at defensive end the following year and he made history sacking Green Bay quarterback Scott Hunter twice in a game for a safety.  Fred finished with 10 sacks in 1973.  His best season as a pro came in 1975 when he earned another Pro Bowl honor, with 61 tackles, 12 sacks and a 20 yard interception for a TD against the Eagles.

Fred helped the Rams make Super Bowl XIV in 1979. During the season he had a 5 sack game against his former team the Giants, en route to a 10 sack season.  He retired after the 1981 season.  A well decorated member of the NFL, it’s disappointing that Fred has not received a call to the HoF, however during the period he played, sacks and tackles were not an official statistic.

Fred has been a pretty busy TV and film actor since retirement. Before the TV show Hunter made him a star, he was also considered for the TV show Cheers to play the main role of Sam Malone.  In the past few years he’s seen a renaissance of sorts cast in a variety of diverse roles, including a brief appearance on Agents of Shield as Octavian Bloom- a HYDRA leader.

G/GS 176/165     TAC  N/A      SAC  104.0    FUM 20
INT  1     YDS 20      AVG 20.0    TD 1     LG 20T

Culp, Curley

Cards: Topps 1978, Topps 1976, Topps 1974
Acquired: TTM 2011, C/o Home
Sent: 11/16    Received: 11/23   (7 days)

Curley Culp is another great example of a player that if they inducted a player at every position into the HoF, – Culp would be inducted at the inglorious, in the trenches position of nose tackle. When people talk about players who redefine a position, I think of Culp defining one all by himself. He not only was a member of the Kansas City Chiefs NFL Superbowl victory, he also reinvigorated a sad sack Houston franchise on defense by being the final cog in challenging the supremacy of the Pittsburgh Steelers during the 70s.

After graduating from Arizona State in 1969, the Denver Broncos drafted Culp with their second round pick of the common NFL draft. Unable to make the squad, Culp was considered undersized and too slow to play linebacker or defensive end, but had some great advantages in his strength, quickness off the line, and technique. He was an enigma.

Moving on to the Kansas City Chiefs, Curley played defensive tackle and was inserted into the lineup and played directly over the center, creating one on one situations, and opening up interior lanes for rushers. This heralded the birth of the 3-4 defense and the nose tackle position. While with the Chiefs, Culp appeared in 82 contests, the 1969 All Star Game, the 1972 Pro Bowl, and was a key cog in Kansas City’s Super Bowl IV victory.

In 1974, the NFL began to feel pressure from a new upstart league: The WFL.  At the same time as Culp began to make rumblings about leaving for the other league to play for the California Sun, defensive coordinator Bum Phillips of the Houston Oilers, had convinced head coach Sid Gillman that the 3-4 could be run full time in the NFL. He insisted that the main piece that he needed to begin a defensive renaissance in Houston was Curley Culp. Pulling the trigger in exchange for John Matuszak, the Oilers struck gold and immediately saw dividends on their investment into Culp as in 1975, he was named AP defensive player of the year after recording 11.5 sacks for the Oilers.  Culp would remain a stalwart member of the Houston defensive front, but as injuries mounted, he would be cut midway through the 1980 season, sign with the Lions and retire after the 1981 season.

Culp somehow ended up down the street from me in the Austin suburb of Pflugerville. When I learned of this, I quickly shot him a letter and a few cards to sign. I love his Topps 1975 card.  He looks like a hungry, angry hobo with that grizzly beard.  A 5 time Pro Bowler, a member of the Kansas City Chiefs 35th anniversary team, the Chiefs All-Century team, the Oilers All-Century team and inducted into the Chiefs HoF, Culp certainly has the credentials, but lacks the glamour and tracked statistics to be in the HoF.

G  179      Tac  N/a    Sac 68     Fum 13     Int   1    Yds   25   Avg   25.0     Td 0      lg 25