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For purposes of full disclosure, as a Philadelphia Eagle fan, this may be the only time you ever see me heaping love on a Dallas Cowboy. But there’s no better time than Super Bowl week to remember one of the great performances to ever happen in the big game.
Chuck Howley was a six-time Pro Bowl linebacker for the Dallas Cowboys in the 1960’s and 70’s, he was a five-time first-team All-Pro selection , and he is a member of the Dallas Cowboys Ring of Honor. During his career, Howley’s athletic ability made him one of the greatest pass-coverage linebackers of all time. Howley had a total of 25 career interceptions, and he still holds the single-season record for picks by a linebacker with five. Howley played in 165 games over thirteen seasons for Dallas, playing in two NFL Championships and two Super Bowls.
But his shining moment in the sun came in Miami in Super Bowl V.
On that day, Chuck Howley was named Super Bowl MVP for intercepting two passes and recovering a fumble in the Cowboys 16-13 loss to the Colts. Think about how rare it is to have a defensive player named MVP, then think about how many times the MVP played on the losing side. Howley was the first non-quarterback to be named Super Bowl MVP, but he refused to accept it, stating it was “meaningless” to him since his team lost.
To this day, that is the only time the Super Bowl MVP award was bestowed upon a player from the losing team. But what many people don’t remember is the Cowboys made it back to the Super Bowl the following season and Howley repeated his dominating performance, notching a fumble recovery and a 41-yard interception return. While the Cowboys captured that Super Bowl 24-3 over the Miami Dolphins, but Howley finished behind quarterback Roger Staubach for the MVP honor.
Howley retired after the 1973 season, and his thirteen seasons playing for the Cowboys ties him for the second-longest tenure in franchise history. In 1977, Howley was inducted into the Cowboys Ring of Honor, making him the fourth player to receive such an honor.
Howley will eventually fade from memory, but football fans everywhere should take time during Super Bowl week to remember one of the great competitors in the game’s half-century history.
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