As a prep player, Chuck Howley attended Warwood High School in Wheeling WV, where he was a three sport letterman and All-State football star. When not participating in scholastic sports, he also was a competitive gymnast. Choosing to keep his talents close to home, young Howley attended West Virginia University where he was a All Southern Conference offensive lineman after each of his three varsity seasons. The all time leading letter winner in Mountaineers history, Chuck lettered in five separate collegiate sports. He even won a Southern Conference individual diving championship while in Morgantown.
After his senior year, Howley was selected in the first round of the 1958 NFL Draft. The Chicago Bears made him the 7th overall pick. He played two seasons as a Bear before he was forced to retire with a "career ending" knee injury. In 1961, he informed owner George Halas that he wanted to return to the game. Uncertain of his future value, Halas was uninterested in reacquiring Howley's services, but he did give the young player an opportunity to have a career in football. Chuck Howley became a Dallas Cowboy in return for the Boys second and ninth round draft picks in 1963.
In spite of his injury, Howley was still a remarkable athlete and he possessed amazing speed. Tom Landry made the decision to move the young man to linebacker to take advantage of his abilities. The gamble the team took in trading for Chuck paid off in spades. Over the course of 13 seasons in Dallas, Howley became a mainstay on Landry's defense. By the time he had retired for the second time, he had played 165 games in a Cowboys uniform and written himself into the team's history.
Chuck Howley remains one of the best linebackers on a team with a long history of distinguished players at that position. During his career he played in 6 Pro Bowls and was named All Pro during five of those years. He also played in two NFL Championship games prior to the Super Bowl era and he also distinguished himself in two Super Bowls. During Super Bowl V, he became the first defensive player to be named the game's MVP. He remains the only man from the losing team to earn this honor. He accomplished this feat thanks to two interceptions and a fumble recovery. The following season, after a second stellar performance that included another interception and a fumble recovery, Chuck Howley earned his only Super Bowl ring, and he finished runner up to teammate Roger Staubach for the MVP award. In 1977 Chuck Howley was inducted into the Cowboys' Ring of Honor. Thirty years later he was a finalist for induction into Canton as a senior candidate.