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Chuck Howley

Inducted 1991
Written by John Antonik

  Chuck Howley

A terrific all-round athlete, Chuck Howley was a rare five-sport WVU letterwinner who went on to an all-pro career with the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL.

Competing in track, swimming, gymnastics, wrestling and football, Howley was the first, and most likely last, Mountaineer athlete to win letters in five sports.

His greatest accomplishments, however, were on the gridiron where he excelled at guard and center. 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.

Considered one of the fastest linemen of his era, the two-way starter would use that blazing speed as an outside linebacker on the Dallas Cowboys famed "Doomsday Defense."

Although hampered by injuries throughout his career as a Mountaineer, he still managed to rate 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 and gained notice by 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 to be selected in the first round by an NFL organization.

He played a year and a half for the Bears, but a serious knee injury seemingly ended his career as an NFL football player. He spent most of the next two years on the inactive list while recuperating from the injury.

He spent that time pumping gasoline in his hometown of Wheeling.

In 1961, however, the newly formed Dallas Cowboys, under Tom Landry, decided to take a chance on Chuck. That gamble paid off in a big way with Howley becoming the Cowboys' regular outside linebacker for the next 12 years.

He was named to the league's all-pro team six times during his career and he teamed up with LeRoy Jordan and Bob Lilley to give the Cowboys an immediate NFL contender.

His greatest moment, though, was 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.

That marked the first 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, winning this time over the Miami Dolphins. Howley had another outstanding game with a 41-yard interception return, but quarterback Roger Staubach won the MVP award.

Howley is a member of the "Cowboy Ring of Honor" and is a candidate for selection into the NFL Hall of Fame.