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Chuck Howley

Charles L. “Chuck” Howley

Howley made history at WVU as a rare five-sport letter winner. Along with football, he competed in track, swimming, gymnastics and wrestling. But his athletic career would not stop there. He later went on to an all-pro career with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.

Excelling at guard and center for football coach Art “Pappy” Lewis, Howley compiled a 21-8-1 record at WVU, including a 21-7 victory over Penn State in 1955. Through most of his career he was hindered by injuries, but still managed to receive third-team All-America recognition by the Williamson Rating Service as a senior. Howley played in three college all-star games—the East-West Shrine Game, the College Football All-Star Game and the Senior Bowl, where he caught the eye of the Chicago Bears.

Howley was selected by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 1958 draft where he played one season before a serious knee injury during training camp in 1959 caused him to miss most of the next two years. He spent that time on the NFL’s inactive list while recuperating from the injury. In the meantime, he worked at a service station in his hometown of Wheeling.

In 1961, the newly formed Dallas Cowboys and their young coach Tom Landry decided to take a chance on Howley and it paid off in a big way. He became the Cowboys’ regular outside linebacker for the next 12 years, an important piece to the team’s famous “Doomsday Defense.”

He was named all-pro six times while teaming with LeRoy Jordan and Bob Lilley to give the Cowboys one of the most feared defenses in the NFL. Howley played in the 1967 NFL championship game against the Green Bay Packers, today considered one of the most memorable games in NFL history.

His greatest moment, however, came in the 1971 Super Bowl, playing against the Baltimore Colts. Although Dallas lost the game 16-13, Howley still won game MVP honors—the only player of a losing team to ever receive that honor. He is also one of only three defensive players to ever win the Super Bowl award.

In 1972, the Cowboys again reached the Super Bowl, this time defeating the Miami Dolphins. Howley had another outstanding game with a 41-yard interception return, but quarterback Roger Staubach won the MVP award that year. He is one of twenty members of the “Cowboy Ring of Honor.”

After retirement, Howley ran a successful uniform rental business in Dallas and now involves himself in the Happy Hollow Ranch dedicated to breeding quarterhorses in Wills Point, Texas.