By Mickey Furfari
Times West Virginian
Chuck Howley’s greatest fame came in football at West Virginia University and then with the NFL’s Dallas Cowboys.
However, making the Wheeling native even more distinguished is the fact he is the only five-sport letterman in WVU athletic history. Besides football, he competed in track and field, wrestling, gymnastics and swimming (as a diver).
Howley lettered in those sports way back there in 1955-56-57. He played football as a two-way guard and center on the gridiron.
But Howley excelled as a linebacker during his 12 years with the Dallas Cowboys. He still lives and owns a ranch in that city.
Howley, who also played basketball and baseball in addition to football at Warwood High, had a ready reply when asked why he decided to compete in five different sports as a Mountaineer.
“Well, I just liked it. There was nothing for me to do during a day’s last period on my school schedule.
“So I decided to try each of the other sports after football. It worked out pretty well for me. I didn’t want to spend time in study hall.
“I just wanted to play another sport instead.”
Howley ran in the 100- and 220-yard events in track, and he admitted that it was a good combination with football. So much so, he believes that WVU should reinstate men’s track and field.
“It’s a great sport,” he said. “A man who has the ability should be able to have the opportunity to compete in college track.”
Howley, who’s 75, is aware that a lot of West Virginia people still remember him and his numerous achievements. He said, “I certainly appreciate that. I really enjoyed my years in Morgantown tremendously.”
He confirmed a report that his granddaughter, Sara Howley, will attend the university and compete in women’s soccer.
Howley, an obviously excellent all-around athlete, probably is best remembered nationally as the only member of a losing team to be named MVP in the Super Bowl.
The all-time great linebacker, who’s still not in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, also is one of only two defensive players to receive that award. As a Mountaineer guard and center, Howley helped WVU to a three-year 21-8-1 record.
That included a rare 21-7 win over Penn State.
Howley, who was hampered by injuries throughout his career, did make one All-America third team while at WVU. He played in three college all-star games.
Before joining Dallas, he played one year and half with the Chicago Bears as a first-round draft choice. He was named All-Pro six times.
Howley who is a charter member of the WVU Sports Hall of Fame and also made Wheeling’s City Hall of Fame. He is in the West Virginia Sports Hall, too.
Howley is in the famous “Cowboys Ring of Honor” in Dallas Stadium.
Other selections included OVAC Hall of Fame and that of the Ohio Valley Dapper Dan organization.
Howley still owns and operates a uniforms business nationally.