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Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints

this is a discussion within the Saints Community Forum; Deuce McAllister is the greatest running back in New Orleans Saints history. But Chuck Muncie was the most talented runner to ever wear the fleur de lis. Muncie had Deuce's size, Reggie Bush's speed and Dalton Hilliard's hands. He could ...

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Old 05-14-2013, 05:35 PM   #1
Threaded by WhoDat!656
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Deuce McAllister is the greatest running back in New Orleans Saints history. But Chuck Muncie was the most talented runner to ever wear the fleur de lis.

Muncie had Deuce's size, Reggie Bush's speed and Dalton Hilliard's hands. He could go over you or through you, depending on his mood.

"Chuck was one of those backs who come along every eight or 10 years," Archie Manning told me for my book, "Tales from the Saints Sideline." "He could have been one of the all-time greats. He was that big and that fast."

Muncie died of a heart of attack on Tuesday at age 60. He won't soon be forgotten in New Orleans, where he spent the first four years of his star-crossed NFL career from 1976 to 1980.

In his own inimitable prose, Peter Finney once described Muncie this way: "He was as talented a ball carrier to ever set foot in the NFL, a sculptured 6-foot-3, 235-pound machine who sent bodies flying, going from one gear to another, who could push a button to trigger a kind of long-stride separation speed similar to an Olympic sprinter."

Muncie arrived in New Orleans with the reputation of a Cal-Berkeley flower child - a breezy, articulate free spirit who attended his first Saints press conference in a wide-brimmed straw hat. Muncie adopted the thick "geek" glasses hip long before Russell Westbrook was born.

Hank Stram selected Muncie with the No. 3 overall pick in the 1976 draft and teamed him with draft classmate, Tony Galbreath, to form one of the great backfield combinations of its era. The "Thunder and Lightning" combination helped balance a Saints offense that previously relied solely on Manning.


Muncie was the focal point. In 1979, he rushed for a then-club record 1,198 yards and helped the Saints post their first non-losing season. It was the first time a Saints rusher had ever topped the 1,000-yard mark in a season.

"Chuck could have been a Hall of Famer," said former Saints defensive tackle Derland Moore, who played with Muncie for his entire Saints career.

Indeed, Muncie's tenure in New Orleans was marred by off-field issues. He'd miss the team charter or go AWOL from practice. He fell asleep in meetings. And there was always an excuse. His mother had a heart attack. The tires on his van were slashed. The hotel operated failed to give him a wake-up call. On and on it went.

The negative headlines started to outnumber the positive ones:

"Muncie Misses Team Plane"

"Muncie Lost--And Found"

"Muncie Says Home Vandalized"

Muncie once told reporters he changed the spelling of his last name from Munsey, the form the family had been using, to Muncie to honor his Native American roots.

"With the help of my mother, I discovered my great-great-great grandfather was a Blackfoot Indian. And his wife was a the daughter of a trapper."

The story, like so many from Muncie in those days, proved to be completely false.

"It was amazing how he performed," Manning said. "He basically slept through every meeting. Someone was telling him what to do every day. On Sunday mornings, I would coach him up. I very seldom called a play where I didn't stop and tell Muncie what he was doing. We'd break the huddle and I would just time it where I walked by him and told him exactly what he was going to do. He gained like 1,200 yards one year on one engine. I don't know what he was doing during the week but he wasn't thinking about football."

After an 0-4 start to the 1980 season, an exasperated Dick Nolan had finally had enough. He traded Muncie to San Diego for a second-round draft pick. Muncie finished his Saints career with 3,393 yards and 28 touchdowns.

Including five seasons with the San Diego Chargers, he rushed for 6,702 yards and 71 touchdowns.

"I've seen a lot of talented people in my life and Muncie, had he been dedicated and didn't have that (drug problem) in his way, probably would have the NFL records for rushing," Galbreath said. "He was 245, 250 pounds and could run a 4.4 40. That's something you just don't see much."

Muncie's playing career ended in 1984 when Commissioner Pete Rozelle suspended him for the remainder of the season when he tested positive for cocaine after the first regular-season game. He attempted a brief comeback in Minnesota in 1985 but abruptly quit to focus on his personal life.

To his credit, Muncie turned his life around.

His Chuck Muncie Youth Foundation, a nonprofit established in 1997, helped at-risk kids and disadvantaged youth throughout Southern California. The foundation provided alternatives to street life for young boys and even offered a free tattoo-removal program to those who performed community service. He also served as a voluntary mentor for countless athletes at his alma mater, Cal-Berkley.

In short, Muncie spent the last decade of his life helping young men try to avoid the pitfalls he could not in life.


"I could have been so much better," Muncie said in a 2004 interview in New Orleans. "The game was easy for me. I was a natural athlete. To this day, I'm 50 years old and I can still run a 5.0 40. I never got hurt. I never had surgery. I probably could have played 15 years. I see these guys in the Hall of Fame and I know I'm as good as those guys. I just never applied myself.''

Muncie squandered a football career, but he didn't squander his life, even if it was shorter than it should have been.

Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints | NOLA.com
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:04 PM   #2
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Re: Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints

Muncie was before my time. Woulda coulda shoulda for the Saints but it sounded like he sorted out his life toward the end. RIP.
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Old 05-14-2013, 06:27 PM   #3
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Re: Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints

He was an amazingly, gifted athlete who couldn't, or wouldn't, give up drugs to be successful as a pro. It took a stint in prison for him to straighten out his life, but, he did it and used his life to make the lives of others better. He may not be a Hall of Famer, which he definitely would have been if he had been more dedicated to a career in Pro football, but in the end he had a successful life. And that's as much as any of us can ask for ourselves.
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:18 PM   #4
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Re: Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints

I watrched him run at the Superdome. Thanks for the memories.
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Old 05-14-2013, 09:56 PM   #5
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Re: Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints

I remember the years Muncie played and believe he could have been the player several current players would have been speaking about emulating if he had applied himself and not had the off-field issues...
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Old 05-15-2013, 02:24 PM   #6
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Re: Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints

shame part of it all he was a super nice guy. not really surprised to see him reach out in the end to help others. what a talent
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Old 05-15-2013, 04:02 PM   #7
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Re: Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints

Sad day. May you find your peace Chuck.
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Old 05-15-2013, 09:18 PM   #8
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Re: Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints

That period was bad for drugs. Plus they were everywhere. Who wouldn't want to party with a NFL RB?
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Old 05-15-2013, 10:29 PM   #9
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Re: Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints

Originally Posted by Rugby Saint II View Post
I watrched him run at the Superdome. Thanks for the memories.
same here rugby, we went wild on his pounding runs and shifting gears once he made the corners. the dude was a beast at the time. he also thought he was higher than the law too.
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Old 05-16-2013, 12:14 AM   #10
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Re: Remembering Chuck Muncie's star-crossed career with the New Orleans Saints

I met him last season. He was in Qualcomm parking lot signing autographs. He looked very healthy and was smiling, having fun with the fans. I shook his hand, got an autograph, and said to him "thank you for everything you brought to the Chargers." He smiled and said "glad you remember." Very genuine guy.

After that, I NEVER would have guessed he had less than a year to go!
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