This is a series that focuses on the last games and/or (when possible) the last plays of various members of the Cowboys. The final plays for a few of these players, such as Roger Staubach, Troy Aikman, and Michael Irvin, are well known. Others may be more difficult to research, but I will do my best.
The Dallas Cowboys hosted the Washington Redskins on Saturday, December 9, 1972. Despite pulling out a 34-24 win over the Redskins, Dallas lost one of the franchise’s greatest players. Washington’s Charley Taylor executed a crackback block on Dallas linebacker Chuck Howley. The MVP of Super Bowl V fell to the ground, and it appeared that his career ended right there.
Howley worked hard to come back, and his off-season physical performance seemed to indicate that he could return for the 1973 season. On June 1, 1973, however, the Dallas Morning News reported that Howley had called it quits.
The retirement did not last. By the middle of September, the Cowboys were down to five healthy linebackers, and head coach Tom Landry convinced Howley to rejoin the squad, albeit on the inactive list. According to Landry, the Cowboys only needed Howley for insurance and would only activate him if another linebacker was injured.
He did not record a tackle or any other statistic that year. In fact, according to his profile on NFL.com, he was active for only one game—a 45-10 win over the St. Louis Cardinals on September 30.
Howley retired for good after the season. He joined the Ring of Honor in 1977 and has been a finalist to join the Pro Football Hall of Fame.