54 Chuck Howley – Linebacker – 1961-1973

When you talk about Cowboys who have beaten the odds, Chuck Howley is one of the first players to come to mind. His story is a remarkable one when you consider that for a time, nobody ever thought he would be able play football again after suffering a devastating injury in only his second season as a pro.

Howley was a tremendous athlete and one of the most versatile college players in history, being able to play at every position before deciding he wanted to focus on being a guard and center for West Virginia University. He was a three-time All-Southern Conference selection and was the Southern Conference Player of the Year in 1957.

In 1958, Howley was drafted by the Chicago Bears in the first round of the NFL Draft, but after a season ending knee injury in 1959, he was forced to announce his retirement believing he would never be able to play football again. It was a sad end to what started out as very promising career… or was it?

However, in 1961 with his knee fully healed, Chuck Howley decided to make a comeback, but the Bears believing he was finished had no interest in bringing him back. Big mistake. Tom Landry was very interested and the Dallas Cowboys traded a couple of draft picks to the Chicago Bears for his rights, and thus began his remarkable career as one of the best defensive players in team history.

Chuck Howley had a punishing style of play and was known for his ability to impact a game with his deceptive speed and blistering tackles. He was one of the best outside linebackers in the league and certainly one of the best ever to play for the Dallas Cowboys.

He teamed up with Dave Edwards and Lee Roy Jordan to form one of the greatest linebacking corps in NFL history and helped form what would become the legendary “Doomsday Defense“.

He played 14 seasons for the Cowboys tying him for the second longest tenure in franchise history, and was selected to six Pro Bowls during that span.

Howley helped lead the team to five Eastern Conference Titles, two NFL Championship games and two Super Bowls. He holds the distinction of being the first defensive player ever to win a Super Bowl MVP, as well as being the first player from a losing team ever to named MVP in Super Bowl V.

In 1976, Chuck Howley was the fourth player to be inducted into the Ring of Honor at Texas Stadium.

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