Cowan, Harrah to join Sports Hall of Fame
WHEELING - Charley Cowan and Dennis Harrah, two West Virginia products who gave the state a presence for 27 consecutive years on the offensive line of the Los Angeles Rams, will be inducted into the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame.
Cowan and Harrah will be honored by the West Virginia Sports Writers Association at the 67th annual Victory Awards Dinner on Sunday, May 5 at the Village Square Conference Center in Clarksburg. Cowan, who died in 1998, will be honored posthumously. Harrah, who resides in hometown Charleston, plans to be present.
Between 1961-87, the two athletes combined to play in 374 NFL games, including 280 starts, and earned nine Pro Bowl selections. No state native has played more NFL seasons (15) than Cowan. No state native earned more Pro Bowl honors (six) than Harrah.
Cowan is the second graduate of segregated Buffalo High School in the Logan County community of Accoville to be enshrined. Fellow Buffalo teammate Lionel Taylor, who became the first NFL player to catch 100 passes in a season, was honored in 1981. Both played at New Mexico Highlands and are enshrined in the college's sports Hall of Fame.
Cowan, a 6-foot-4, 265-pound tackle nicknamed Humps, was the 45th overall pick of the 1961 NFL Draft by the Rams and, like Harrah, played his entire pro career with the franchise, which relocated to St. Louis in 1995. Cowan's last NFL season, 1976, was the rookie year for Harrah.
"This is a special honor for me since I will be honored along with Charley," Harrah said. "He was like a mentor to the younger linemen and his teammates all looked up to him."
Cowan was a full-time starter his last 10 seasons and overall played 206 games, including 136 starts. He was a three-time Pro Bowl selection.
During Cowan's tenure from 1961-75, the Rams made the playoffs five times and reached the NFC finals twice before bowing to Minnesota and Dallas in 1974 and 1975, respectively.
Harrah graduated from Stonewall Jackson High in Charleston, where he was an all-state center in 1970. He enrolled at the University of Miami (Fla.) and became a 1974 All-America offensive line selection - three first-team and two second-unit honors. The Miami Sports Hall of Famer was the 11th overall pick in the 1975 NFL Draft by the Rams.
After playing on special teams and as a backup lineman as a rookie, he became a 12-year regular and team captain for six years. He played in 168 games - 144 as a starter and 16 playoff games - including the 1980 Super Bowl when the Rams fell to the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-19. He helped the Rams win six NFC West titles and the 1979 NFC crown.
Harrah was a seven-time All-Pro honoree, played in six Pro Bowls and was selected to the Los Angeles Rams' 40th Anniversary Team.