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Chuck Howley

Charles Louis "Chuck" Howley (born June 28, 1936, in Wheeling, West Virginia) is a former football linebacker in the National Football League. He spent his career with the Chicago Bears and Dallas Cowboys.

Chuck HowleyCollege career

While attending West Virginia University, Howley played college football for the West Virginia Mountaineers, where he was a three-time All-Southern Conference selection and was the Southern Conference Player of the Year in 1957. Howley not only lettered in football, but also in track, diving, gymnastics, and wrestling.

He won a Southern Conference one-meter diving championship.

Although he was a incredible athlete who could play any position on the football field, Howley played guard and center during his three years at varsity, and the Mountaineers compiled a 21-8-1 mark during his tenure, including a 21-7 victory over Penn State which would be the last until 1984. He was All-Southern Conference for three years and was named Southern Conference Athlete of the Year his junior year.

He played in three college all-star games—the East-West Shrine Game, the College Football All-Star Game and the Senior Bowl, which gained notice by the Chicago Bears.

Howley is a member of the Sigma Chi Fraternity.

Professional career

Drafted out of West Virginia University by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the 1958 NFL Draft, Howley played for the Bears for two seasons before retiring after what appeared to be a career-ending knee injury he sustained during the 1959 training camp in Rensselaer, Indiana. When he decided to make a comeback in 1961 following a West Virginia alumni game, the Bears traded his rights to the Dallas Cowboys for a 2nd-round, along with 9th-round draft choice in the 1963 NFL Draft.

Tom Landry, the head coach of the newly formed Cowboys, made the gamble to try to perfect his 'Doomsday Defense'.

The gamble paid off, Howley remained a phenomenal athlete, even after the knee injury. Perhaps his most noteworthy physical attribute was his speed. Landry once said that Howley might have made it in the NFL as a running back if he hadn't been too valuable to move from linebacker.

Although he started in 1961 and 1962 as a strongside linebacker, in 1963 he embraced the switch to weakside linebacker, when it was decided that Dave Edwards had more upper-body strength. The move paid off as, at the conclusion of that season, Howley was named to The Sporting News All-East NFL team for the first time.

He teamed up with Edwards and Lee Roy Jordan to form one of the greatest linebacking corps in NFL history.

Howley played with the Cowboys for 165 games over thirteen seasons, playing in two NFL Championships and helping the Cowboys to two Super Bowls. The Cowboys finished in the top seven in the NFL in scoring defense and yards allowed in 10 of Howley’s 13 seasons with the team.

He was also named Super Bowl MVP for Super Bowl V, intercepting two passes and recovering a fumble in the Cowboys 16-13 loss to the Colts. It was the first time that a defensive player received the honor; to this day, it is the only time a player from the losing team has ever won the award. The following season, Dallas made it back to the Super Bowl, and again Howley had a great performance, recording a fumble recovery and a 41-yard interception in the Cowboys 24-3 win over the Miami Dolphins.

His great performance was under MVP-consideration, but his teammate Roger Staubach won the MVP honor. He always maintained a reputation for playing well in the big games. He also had a reputation as a big-play producer and studied game films looking for opportunities to produce a "turn around" play.

During his career, Howley intercepted 25 passes, returning them for 399 yards and two touchdowns. He finished with more than 100 yards in interception returns for both the 1968 and 1971 seasons. He also recovered 18 fumbles, returning them for 191 yards and one touchdown. He is second in Cowboys' history with his 17 fumbles recovered. His 97-yard return of a fumble during a game against the Atlanta Falcons on October 2, 1966 is still the second longest in Cowboys history.

He also had a large number of tackles and quarterback sacks, but these statistics were not compiled until after Howley's career ended so his unofficial sack total is 26.5 according to the Dallas Cowboys with a career high of 5˝ sacks in 1965. Howley was named First-team All-Pro five times in his career, was a six-time Pro Bowler and was named to the All-Eastern Conference team in 1963.

Howley retired after the 1973 season. His thirteen seasons for the Cowboys, ties him for the second longest tenure in franchise history.

In 1977, Howley was inducted into the Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium, the fourth player to receive that honor. However, he has not yet been inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, though he has been inducted into the West Virginia Athletics Hall of Fame.

Howley is still arguably the greatest linebacker in the history of the Dallas Cowboys. When he retired, Tom Landry said "I don’t know that I’ve seen anybody better at linebacker than Howley."

Post NFL activities

Following retirement, Howley ran a successful uniform rental business in Dallas and is now involved in a foundation dedicated to breeding quarter horses at Happy Hollow, located in Wills Point, Texas. His broodmare herd consists of more than 50 mares.

Howley lives in the Preston Hollow neighborhood of north Dallas.


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