Jim Lee Howell
No. 21, 81
Personal information
Born:(1914-09-27)September 27, 1914
Lonoke, Arkansas, U.S.
Died:January 4, 1995(1995-01-04) (aged 80)
Lonoke, Arkansas, U.S.
Career information
Career history
As a player:
As a coach:
Career highlights and awards
As player:

As head coach:

Career NFL statistics
Head coaching record
Regular season:53–27–4 (.655)
Postseason:2–2 (.500)
Career:55–27–4 (.663)
Player stats at NFL.com
Coaching stats at PFR

James Lee Howell (September 27, 1914 – January 4, 1995) was an American professional football player and coach for the New York Giants of the National Football League (NFL). Howell was born in Arkansas, and played college football and basketball at the Arkansas Razorbacks.

Playing career

He was drafted by the Giants in the 1937 NFL Draft, and played wide receiver and defensive back from 1937 to 1947. While playing for the Giants, he was elected to the Arkansas House of Representatives to represent Lonoke County in 1940[1] and served one term during the January to March 1941 session of the legislature.[2]

Coaching career

After his playing career ended, he was head coach for Wagner College football.

Howell returned to the Giants in 1954 as head coach, succeeding fan, media, and player favorite Steve Owen after 21 years. Howell quickly hired Vince Lombardi as his offensive coordinator. Shortly afterward, he named punter and defensive back Tom Landry to defensive coordinator, a post which Landry retained after he retired as a player after the 1955 season. From 1954 to 1960, the Giants played in three NFL Championship Games, defeating George Halas's Chicago Bears in 1956 by the score of 47–7.

During Howell's seven seasons as head coach, he earned a career 53–27–4 record, with a .663 winning percentage. He drafted and coached a roster of stars, including six future Pro Football Hall of Famers, Sam Huff, Andy Robustelli, Rosey Brown, Emlen Tunnell, Frank Gifford, and Don Maynard. Although his conservative, defense-oriented style was unpopular with the fans and media, the Giants' success on the field was more satisfying. Several other players from this era went on to become head coaches and broadcasters. His winning percentage of .663 is 12th alltime in NFL history.

Howell played and coached in an era when football went from a relatively simple game, to one of great complexity with schemes, formations, and playbooks designed to deceive as much as over power. With future Hall of Famers Lombardi and Landry as coordinators, Howell's job was frequently to play the diplomat within his own team.

After football

Howell stayed with the team as Director of Player Personnel until his retirement in 1981. He died on January 4, 1995, in Lonoke, Arkansas.

The Professional Football Researchers Association named Howell to the PRFA Hall of Very Good Class of 2007 [3]

Howell appeared on the April 30, 1957, episode of To Tell The Truth posing as a Texas Ranger.

Head coaching record


Year Team Overall Conference Standing Bowl/playoffs
Wagner Seahawks (Independent) (1947–1953)
1947 Wagner 4–5
1948 Wagner 3–3–2
1949 Wagner 7–1–1
1950 Wagner 3–6
1951 Wagner 2–6
1952 Wagner 3–5
1953 Wagner 2–4
Wagner: 24–30–3
Total: 24–30–3


Team Year Regular season Post season
Won Lost Ties Win % Finish Won Lost Win % Result
NYG 1954 7 5 0 .583 3rd in NFL Eastern
NYG 1955 6 5 1 .545 3rd in NFL Eastern
NYG 1956 8 3 1 .727 1st in NFL Eastern 1 0 1.000 Won NFL Championship over Chicago Bears
NYG 1957 7 5 0 .583 2nd in NFL Eastern
NYG 1958 9 3 0 .750 1st in NFL Eastern 1 1 .500 Won Eastern Conference Playoff over Cleveland Browns
Lost NFL Championship to Baltimore Colts
NYG 1959 10 2 0 .833 1st in NFL Eastern 0 1 .000 Lost NFL Championship to Baltimore Colts
NYG 1960 6 4 2 .600 3rd in NFL Eastern
Total 53 27 4 .663 2 2 .500 -

See also


  1. ^ Encyclopedia of Arkansas
  2. ^ Arkansas Secretary of State Historical Report 2008, p. 194
  3. ^ "Hall of Very Good Class of 2007". Archived from the original on July 7, 2018. Retrieved November 23, 2016.