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Howley high among WVU stars

May 15, 2012
The Inter-Mountain

MORGANTOWN - Charles L. "Chuck" Howley remains high among the greatest athletes in West Virginia University history.

While nearly all of his fame comes from football, the Wheeling native set a record that still stands by becoming the only Mountaineer who earned letters in five sports. The others were track, wrestling, swimming and gymnastics.

It is obviously so rare that the number probably never will be matched.

Howley, who competed in football, basketball and track at Warwood High School, lettered in 1955-56-57-58 at WVU. He played guard and center on the gridiron.

Asked why he competed in five sports, Howley explained in a recent interview from his Dallas home:

"Oh, one thing just led to another. I guess you'll call it trying to get out of work or trying to get out of school. I didn't want them to be putting me in a late class or study hall that fourth or fifth period of the day. I just tried to keep busy, so I tried other sports.

"Competing in sports helped me throughout my career. It gave me the agility I needed and it was something I really needed to be successful in my career."

Howley, who has lived in Texas since 1961, said he really enjoyed his four years in Morgantown - "very much so."

He recalled that he liked playing football under coach Art "Pappy" Lewis' guidance.

"Pappy was a unique person, but he was different from all coaches today," he said.

After graduating from WVU, Howley was drafted in the first round of the 1959 National Football League draft by the Chicago Bears. He had led his teams to a combined 21-8-1 record.

While he was hampered by injuries most of his collegiate career, he played in three all-star games. These were the East-West Shrine Game, the College Football All-Star Game and the Senior Bowl.

Howley played only one year with the Chicago Bears before a serious injury in training camp caused him to miss most of two years in the NFL.

In 1961, the newly formed Dallas Cowboys and coach Tom Landry obtained rights to Howley. So he became that team's starting outside linebacker.

Howley spent 12 years with the Cowboys and was a vital cog in that team's fearsome defense. He was named all-pro six years. He played in the 1967 NFL Championship game against the Green Bay Packers.

But, it was in 1971 that his greatest moment arrived. The Cowboys played the Baltimore Colts in the Super Bowl.

Dallas lost 16-13, but Howley was named the game's MVP. He's the only player of a losing team to win that honor. He's also one of only three defensive players ever to receive that honor.

Howley helped Dallas beat Miami in the 1972 Super Bowl.

He was in the 1991 inaugural class of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame. He's also in the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. In addition, he is among 20 former NFL stars in the "Cowboy Ring of Honor."

An All-America selection as a Mountaineer, Howley recently was inducted into WVU's Academy of Distinguished Alumni.

It was a richly deserved honor he admittedly cherishes.

"It was quite a night," he said of his induction. "It was emotional big-time and I couldn't talk. It meant so much to me.

"Getting that honor made me realize how much the university meant to me. I've been away for so long.

"It was mind-boggling to me. I got choked up with my family and all those people there that night.

"Everyone was just wonderful."

Howley still owns a uniform rental business in Dallas.

"My son and son-in-law run it," he said.

He also has the Happy Hollow Ranch devoted to breeding quarter horses in Wills Point, Texas.



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