WVU Sports Hall of Fame
Written by John Antonik
Chuck Howley was one of the most impressive all-around athletes in West Virginia University sports history - a rare five-sport letterwinner at WVU who later went on to an all-pro career with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL.
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Competing in track, swimming, gymnastics, wrestling and football, Howley was the first, and likely the last, Mountaineer athlete to win letters in five different sports.
His greatest accomplishments, however, were on the gridiron where he excelled as a guard and center for coach Art "Pappy" Lewis. During his three years playing with the varsity, WVU compiled a 21-8-1 mark including a 21-7 victory over Penn State in 1955 - the last time West Virginia defeated the Nittany Lions until 1984.
Although hampered by injuries throughout much of his career, he 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.
The Bears selected Howley in the first round of the 1958 draft (No. 11 overall pick), making him the third Mountaineer football player ever selected in the first round by an NFL organization.
He played one season for the Bears 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, however, 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, Howley becoming the Cowboys' regular outside linebacker for the next 12 years as 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 Super Bowl V in 1971 playing against the Baltimore Colts. Although Dallas lost the game to Baltimore, 16-13, Howley still won game MVP honors.
It was the first time and only time in Super Bowl history a player on a losing team won MVP honors. Howley 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.
Howley is a member of the "Cowboy Ring of Honor" and remains a candidate for selection into the NFL Hall of Fame.
Following retirement, Howley ran a successful uniform rental business in Dallas and is now involved in a foundation dedicated to breeding quarterhorses at Happy Hollow, located in Wills Point, Texas. His broodmare herd consists of more than 50 mares.