Class of 2023
Super Bowl MVP
Chuck Howley retired from professional football after 15 games over two seasons (1958-59) with the Chicago Bears following a knee injury that also cost him the entire 1960 season.
Still passionate about the game, Howley decided to test his knee and play in an alumni game at his alma mater, West Virginia University, in 1961. The positive result ignited a spark to give the game one more try at the highest level.
“I went back (to pro football) because I decided there were better things to do than run a gas station,” Howley told a reporter years later.
Neither he nor the Dallas Cowboys, who obtained his rights from the Bears for two future draft picks, regretted the decision.
Fully healed, Howley became a model of durability in his second round in the NFL. He missed only four regular-season contests from 1961 to 1972, anchoring an outside linebacker position for 176 games, a figure that included 11 playoff starts from 1966-1971 as the Cowboys reached two Super Bowls and the first two NFL Championship Games.
In Super Bowl V, Howley intercepted two passes and forced a fumble in the 16-13 loss to the Baltimore Colts. He was selected as the game’s Most Valuable Player and remains the only player from the losing team to receive that award.
The next season, the Cowboys won the Super Bowl with a 24-3 victory over Miami. Howley intercepted another pass and recovered a fumble as the “Doomsday Defense” held the Dolphins to 185 total yards.
Howley played one game in 1973, but a knee injury he sustained late in the 1972 season on a low block effectively ended his career.
In 180 career regular-season games, Howley intercepted 25 passes, registered 26 sacks (according to later compilation) and recovered 18 fumbles, which he returned for 191 yards – a total that still ranks seventh on the NFL’s all-time list.
Howley was named first-team All-Pro in five consecutive seasons (1966-70) and was selected to six consecutive Pro Bowls (1966-71). He was elected to the Cowboys Ring of Honor in 1977.
|Additional career statistics: Punt returns: 2-32; punting: 1-37; fumble reovery for TD: 1.|
1966 NFL – Green Bay Packers 34, Dallas Cowboys 27
- Howley started at left outside linebacker. He recorded five solo tackles.
- Howley started at left outside linebacker. He recorded one solo tackle, two assisted tackles and one pass defensed.
- Howley started at right outside linebacker. Gamebook not available for detailed stats.
1971 NFC – Dallas Cowboys 14, San Francisco 49ers 3
- Howley started at right outside linebacker. He recorded three solo tackles, one assisted tackle and two passes defensed.
1972 NFC – Washington Redskins 26, Dallas Cowboys 3
- Howley did not play.
1973 NFC – Minnesota Vikings 27, Dallas Cowboys 10
- Howley did not play.
Super Bowl V – Baltimore Colts 16, Dallas Cowboys 13
- Howley started at right outside linebacker. He recorded three solo tackles, one assisted tackle and two interceptions returned for 22 yards. He was named MVP of Super Bowl V.
Super Bowl VI – Dallas Cowboys 24, Miami Dolphins 3
- Howley started at right outside linebacker. He recorded two solo tackles, one fumble recovery, one pass defensed and one interception returned for 41 yards.
All-Pro: 1969 (HOF, NEA)
All-Pro Second Team: 1968 (PFWA) • 1969 (PFWA)
All-NFL: 1966 (AP, UPI, NEA) • 1967 (AP) • 1968 (AP, NEA, PW) • 1969 (AP, UPI, NEA, PW, NY) • 1970 (AP, PFWA, PW)
All-NFL Second Team: 1966 (NY) • 1967 (UPI, NEA, NY) • 1968 (UPI, NY) •
1970 (NEA) • 1971 (PFWA)
All-Eastern Conference: 1963 (SN) • 1967 (SN) • 1968 (SN) • 1969 (SN)
All-NFC: 1970 (AP, UPI, SN, PW)
All-NFC Second Team: 1971 (UPI)
(6) – 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1972
IN THE NFL RECORD BOOK (at time of his retirement following 1973 season)
- [2nd] Longest Fumble Return – 97td (vs. Atlanta Falcons, Oct. 2, 1966)
- [1st] Most Interceptions, Career – 3 (2 games)
- [Tied for 1st] Most Interceptions, Game – 2 (Super Bowl V vs. Baltimore Colts)
Dallas Cowboys records held by Howley
(Records through the 1973 season, Howley’s final season with Dallas)
- [1st] Most Opponents’ Fumble Recovered, Career – 16 (1961-1973)
- [1st] Longest Fumble Return – 97td (vs. Atlanta Falcons, Oct. 2, 1966)
- [Tied for 3rd] Most Interceptions, Career – 24 (1961-1973)
- [1st] Longest Fumble Return – 44td (at Cleveland Browns, Dec. 21, 1968)
- [Tied for 1st] Most Opponents’ Fumble Returned for Touchdown, Career – 1 (1961-1973)
LEAGUE/TEAM STATISTICAL TITLES
Team statistical championships
Interception title: 1968
YEAR-BY-YEAR TEAM RECORDS
* Qualified for postseason in bold
Full name: Charles Louis Howley
Birthdate: June 28, 1936
Birthplace: Wheeling, West Virginia
High school: Warwood (Wheeling, West Virginia)
Elected to Pro Football Hall of Fame: Jan. 17, 2023
Other members of the Class of 2023: Rondé Barber, Don Coryell, Joe Klecko, Darrelle Revis, Ken Riley, Joe Thomas, Zach Thomas, DeMarcus Ware.
Pro career: 15 seasons, 180 games.
Drafted: First round (7th overall) in 1958 by Chicago Bears
Uniform number: 54