INDIANAPOLIS He is the only man in the world ever to do what he did in a Super Bowl. So this time of year, he is accustomed to the phone ringing, and strangers asking about 1971.
"It's been, what, 35 years?" Chuck Howley said. "And I believe we didn't win the game."
What a kidder. Howley fully remembers his Dallas Cowboys didn't win Super Bowl V. Knows they lost on a late field goal to the Baltimore Colts, despite his two interceptions and one fumble recovery as a linebacker.
Plus something else.
He was a Super Bowl MVP who played for the losing team. Hadn't happened before. Hasn't happened since. Might never happen again.
"The ball bounced different in a lot of ways in the game," he said. "I was fortunate to be in the right position to do some of the things I was able to do. I was grateful for the MVP. I still am."
It was a different world, the last time the Colts were in the Super Bowl. A different league. And — fans from both teams would certainly hope next week — a far different game.
Super Bowl V was the sloppiest ever played, living in memory as the Blooper Bowl. The Colts had seven turnovers, and won. The Cowboys had four turnovers and 10 penalties, losing mare yardage on flags than they gained either passing or running.
A 32-yard field goal by Baltimore rookie Jim O'Brien finally won the game 16-13 with five seconds left. The Colts completed only 11 passes. Their top rusher gained only 33 yards.
Which is how a linebacker from the losing team gets MVP and a new car. A Dodge Charger, Howley remembers. He gave it to his wife, who kept it about a month. A little too sporty for her.
How long ago was it that the Colts made the Super Bowl?
Game tickets were $15. Now $600.
A 30-second commercial cost $72,000. Last year, $2.4 million.
Super Bowl V was the first to use a Roman numeral. The first under the AFL-NFL merger. The first to award the Lombardi Trophy officially, since Vince Lombardi had just died. The host city, Miami, was blacked out, as was NFL custom.
During Super Bowl week, the news headlines spoke of George McGovern running for president, the U.S. bombing Cambodia, Richard Nixon's State of the Union address. A little-known cartel named OPEC was threatening to increase the price of oil from $3.50 a barrel. An Associated Press TV reviewer panned a new CBS comedy, calling it "a half hour of vulgarity." It was called "All in the Family."
Indianapolis had no stadium, no NFL team. The Pacers were fighting for first place in the ABA.
The Chicago Bears went 6-8, playing their last season in Wrigley Field.
O'Brien's 32-yard field goal was, in fact, kicked from the 32-yard line. The goal posts were at the goal line, not the back of the end zone.
Tony Dungy was 15 years old. Only one member of the current Colts' 53-man roster — receiver Rickey Proehl — had been born.
Super Bowl hype was several watts lower. The now-chaotic Media Day was a walk in the park.
"It was almost like a photo session like you have in training camp," Howley said. And how many reporters interviewed the future MVP that Super Bowl week?
"I don't remember any."
He does recall the quiet Dallas team afterward. "I was supposed to be celebrating because I got the MVP," he said. "But I had to celebrate in a losing locker room."
So he didn't.
Howley now lives in the Dallas area and is the owner-operator of an industrial uniform business. The Dodge Charger is long gone.
But then, he is not the only participant to be without the trappings of Super Bowl V. After the Colts bolted Baltimore for Indianapolis, as part of a settlement, they had to return the Lombardi Trophy to the city. It is displayed in the museum of Sports Legends at Camden Yards. They don't even own the award for the only Super Bowl they've ever won.
Contact Mike Lopresti at firstname.lastname@example.org.