Chuck Howley

Chuck Howley. Getty Images


June 28, 1936

Drafted: The Chicago Bears selected Chuck Howley in the first round of the 1958 NFL draft, but he retired after suffering what appeared to be a career-ending knee injury during the 1959 season. Howley decided to make a comeback in 1961, and his rights were traded to the Dallas Cowboys for future draft picks.

Years Played:

1958-1959, 1961-1972

Position Played: Outside Linebacker

Played For: Chicago Bears (1958-1959), Dallas Cowboys (1961-1972)

Alma Mater: West Virginia

Uniform Number:


College Highlights:

• 3-Time All-Southern Conference
• Southern Conference Athlete of the Year (1957)
• Lettered in five sports (Football, Track, Diving, Gymnastics, Wrestling) at West Virginia University

NFL Highlights:

Cowboys head coach Tom Landry received some criticism at the time for trading to get Howley; with his bad knee, many NFL observers thought it was too much of a gamble.

Landry turned out to be right, though, as Howley became an integral of the famed Dallas "Doomsday Defense." 

Howley's strengths were his amazing and versatile athletic ability and, mainly, his speed, which enabled him to make tackles all over the field, from sideline to sideline. Howley had played basketball at West Virginia as a guard and center, and is the only athlete ever at the college to letter in five sports, and was even a champion diver.

Howley really came into his own in 1963 when he made the switch to weakside linebacker, which enabled him to utilize his skills better. The Sporting News named him to its All-East team that year in recognition of his play.

It could be said that Howley was the prototype of the modern linebacker. At a time when the NFL had firmly entrenched itself as a passing league, Howley was known for his exceptional skills at covering receivers.

During his career, he compiled 25 interceptions, and returned two of them for touchdowns. He broke up many, many pass attempts, before the league began keeping statistics on passes defended.

He had a nose for the ball,and always seemed to be around the action. He is second on the all-time list for fumble recoveries in the Dallas record books, with 18, returning one for a touchdown.

Since the NFL did not keep records of tackles or sacks at that time either, it is not known how many Howley had, but it is generally agreed Howley was among the leaders at both; the unofficially Dallas tally of sacks by Howley is 26.5.

• Named Most Valuable Player in Super Bowl V

• First Player From a Losing Team to Win Super Bowl MVP Honors
• First Defensive Player Named Super Bowl MVP
• Named All-Pro Six times
• Selected to the Pro Bowl Six times
• Named to All-Eastern Conference Team (1963)
• Member of Super Bowl VI Championship Team
• Won Two NFC Titles
• Won Five Eastern Conference Titles