METAIRIE, La. (AP) — Chuck Muncie, a Pro Bowl running back with both the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers, has died at age 60, the NFL clubs and a family spokesman said Tuesday.
family spokesman Vintage Foster of AMF Media Group in San Ramon,
Calif., said Muncie died at his Los Angeles-area home on Monday from
Muncie was the Saints' first-round pick, third
overall, out of California in 1976. He played 4½ seasons in New Orleans
before being traded in 1980 to San Diego, where he finished his
nine-year NFL career.
In 1979, Muncie became the first Saint to
rush for 1,000 yards, finishing with 1,198 and 11 touchdowns, and his
1,506 total yards from scrimmage earned him the first of his three Pro
The 6-foot-3 Muncie, who played at 227 pounds,
and fellow Saints running back Tony Galbreath formed what then-coach
Hank Stram dubbed the "Thunder and Lightning" combination in the New
Orleans backfield. Muncie's photo is among those featured on the Saints'
Hall of Honor inside the club's training facility.
Tom Benson said in a written statement that the Saints were mourning
Muncie's "untimely passing," adding, "Our thoughts and prayers go out to
his family and other loved ones at this difficult time."
was traded by the Saints at midseason in 1980 to San Diego, where he
played 51 games and was named to Pro Bowl rosters two more times, in
1981 and '82. In 2009, the club recognized him as one of the 50 greatest
Chargers of all time.
accomplishments on the field came despite cocaine use, and in 1989, five
years after his retirement from pro football, Muncie was sentenced to
18 months in prison for a cocaine distribution conviction.
however, he began sharing his life story with at-risk youth,
highlighting his struggles with drug abuse. He created the Chuck Muncie
Youth Foundation, the mission of which was to offer children mentoring,
educational assistance and counseling.
"His work with at-risk
youth, the Boys and Girls Clubs and his foundation were the things that
really made him shine," Muncie's daughter, Danielle Ward, said in a
written statement provided by Foster.
"He was a star on the
football field but his most impressive work was done in the second
chapter of his life where he lived his life with great transparency,"
added Muncie's former wife, Robyn Hood. "He simply wanted others to
learn from his mistakes. He carried that message with him everywhere he
went. And as a result, he changed the lives of hundreds of kids. He made
Muncie also became an active alumnus for Cal,
where he is a member of the university's athletic Hall of Fame. In 1975,
he helped the Golden Bears win a share of the Pac-8 Trophy and was the
Heisman Trophy runner-up.
"Although it's been nearly 40 years
since Chuck suited up for the Cal football program, stories of his
accomplishments on the field of play still resonate throughout Memorial
Stadium," Cal Athletic Director Sandy Barbour said.
"After he hung
up his cleats as a professional, he became an incredible advocate and
positive influence on so many youth through his foundation, and he was a
familiar face on campus and at Cal football games. All of us in the Cal
family are saddened by his sudden and far-too-soon passing, and he will
be deeply missed."
Muncie's 43 touchdowns for San Diego, and 19 touchdowns in a single season, both rank second in Chargers history, eclipsed only by LaDainian Tomlinson.
"Everyone at the Chargers is deeply saddened by the passing of Chuck Muncie, one of the greatest running backs in Chargers
history," the team said in a written statement. "We will remember him
as a tremendous athlete with a larger-than-life personality. It's a sad
day for all of us and all Chargers fans."
In nine seasons, Muncie finished with 6,702 yards rushing, 2,323 yards receiving and 74 total touchdowns.
Ken Trahan, general manager of the Saints Hall of Fame, said Muncie was probably the most talented runner New Orleans ever had.
he got the corner, to see that guy get north and south with that speed
for his size was frightening," Trahan said. "Chuck could lower his
shoulder and run over people, run through people as well as just run
away from them."
Muncie has been nominated for the Saints Hall of
Fame, which is run independently from the club, but has not been
enshrined as Galbreath has. Part of the reason, Trahan said, is because
members of the Hall's selection panel say the drug use that coincided
with the Saints' decision to trade him also was detrimental to the club,
which went 1-15 the season he left.
"Clearly he had some issues
off the field and he ended up paying a price for that," Trahan said,
alluding both to the damage to his reputation and his jail time. "The
beauty of that is he really overcame that, grew up and became a much
This is a story update. The previous story is below.
SAN DIEGO (CBS 8) - Chargers fans are saying goodbye to one of the greatest players to ever put on a Bolts uniform. Former star running back Chuck Muncie died of heart attack at age 60 Monday.
Fans voted him one of the 50 greatest Chargers of all-time and Muncie's teammates say the fans got it right.
"It was like a grown man playing with pee wee football guys. You would see NFL corners cowering when they saw him turn the corner and fans loved it," said Chargers Teammate Hank Bauer.
Muncie came into the NFL with the New Orleans Saints, but was traded to the Chargers in 1980 where he earned Pro Bowl honors twice and led the team to 2 AFC West Division Championships. He rushed for over 67 hundred yards in his nine pro seasons and scored 71 touchdowns.
But his career was cut short, when his well-documented problems with cocaine forced him into retirement.
Muncie went to prison for nearly 18 months, but came out a changed man, dedicating his life to working with kids, making sure they didn't make his mistakes.
"He'll admit, and did admit, he made some choices that didn't work out well for him, but he turned his life around," explained Chargers Spokesman Bill Johnston. "He turned a lot of things around and made some positive decisions and positive impact on a lot of people after that."
Johnston started working for the Chargers a year before Muncie joined the team. He remembers the running back as a larger than life figure who was a pleasure to have in the halls at Chargers Park even after his playing days had passed.
"He always had a smile on his face," said Johnston. "We were always happy to see him and he was always happy to see us."
Muncie's ex-wife issued a statement Tuesday saying:
"He simply wanted others to learn from his mistakes. He carried that message with him everywhere he went and as a result, he changed the lives of hundreds of kids. He made a difference."