The Hall-of-Fame Case for Chuck Howley, Revisited

Chuck Howley was named as a member of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. However, his selection to the Pro Football Hall of Fame has remained elusive.

The Waco Tribune-Herald had a great story recently about Chuck Howley, the former Cowboys linebacker who was inducted into the Texas Sports Hall of Fame. Howley was a six-time Pro Bowler and was named all-pro six times. His name only occasionally comes up during conversations about the Hall of Fame, though his teammates have advocated on his behalf, as the article notes.

Howley is best known as being the only player in NFL history to be named MVP of a Super Bowl as a member of the losing team. He picked off two passes and recovered a fumble in the Cowboys’ 16-13 loss to Baltimore in Super Bowl V. One year later, Howley had a key interception that set up a Dallas touchdown.

“It was hard to enjoy being MVP of that game,” Howley said. “How do you celebrate that? I remember some of the other guys saying, ‘Chuck, that’s fantastic.’ But it was very difficult to be enthusiastic. I just felt like we left some unfinished business out there.”

The Cowboys finished the job the following year when they blew away the Miami Dolphins, 24-3, for their first Super Bowl championship. Though Staubach was named MVP, Howley delivered another tremendous performance, returning an interception 41 yards and recovering a fumble.

Now that Bob Hayes and Rayfield Wright have made the Hall, it isn’t likely other Cowboys from the 1960s and 70s will receive serious consideration any time soon. Howley is one of those players who is being overlooked.

Howley’s career highlights:

  • Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor member (inducted in 1977)
  • Most Valuable Player Super Bowl V
  • 6-time All-Pro
  • 6-Time Pro Bowl
  • All-Eastern Conference Team 1963
  • 1 Super Bowl Title
  • 2 NFC Titles
  • 5 Eastern Conference Titles
  • Tied 2nd Franchise History Career Fumbles Recovered (16)
  • 3-Time All-Southern Conference West Virginia University
  • Southern Conference Athlete of the Year
  • 5-sport Letterman- Football, Track, Diving, Gymnastics, Wrestling
  • The Cowboys’ official site has more.

    The other Dallas players not currently in the Hall have similar credentials. Safety Cliff Harris, receiver Drew Pearson, and defensive end Harvey Martin were each named as members of the all-decade team of the 1970s, and Harris is a member of the Ring of Honor. However, none of the three are members of the Hall of Fame. Howley played during a great era for linebackers and was not named to the all-decade team of the 1960s.

    This question might be debated endlessly (and indeed, it has been debated), but which of these players is most deserving of a Hall of Fame bid. Here’s a quick recap:

    Chuck Howley, LB: 6 Pro Bowls, 6-time All-Pro, Ring of Honor
    Cliff Harris, S: 6 Pro Bowls, 4-time All Pro, All-Decade Team (First Team) for the 1970s, Ring of Honor
    Drew Pearson, WR: 3 Pro Bowls, 4-time All Pro, All-Decade Team (First Team) for the 1970s
    Harvey Martin, DE: 4 Pro Bowls, 4-time All Pro, All-Decade Team (Second Team) for the 1970s

    Which of these Cowboys most deserves to be in the Hall of Fame?

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    • Jason Neighbors

      It is a travesty that Howley and Harris are not in the Hall of Fame, especially Harris. The Hall of Fame itself picks the All-Decade teams, so these never-played-football sportswriters are saying they know better than the men who run the Hall of Fame? It’s a disgusting farce.

    • krl97a

      You list them in the correct order at the bottom: Howley, Harris, Pearson, and Martin. In fact I think Howley is most deserving NFL player of ANY team from the senior era still not in. There’s gotta be a way to put pressure on Gosselin to start articulating a case for Howley. At least get him in the conversation.