Chuck Muncie dies at 60

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Chuck Muncie, a three-time All-Pro running back known for his imposing size and powerful stye, has died at the age of 60.

The cause of death was a heart attack, according to Adam Schefter of ESPN.

After a standout career at Cal during which he came in second place in Heisman Trophy voting as a senior, Muncie went to the Saints as the third overall pick in the 1976 NFL draft. His best season in New Orleans came in 1979, when he carried 238 for 1,198 yards and 11 touchdowns, and also caught 40 passes for 308 yards.

But Muncie frequently expressed his unhappiness in New Orleans, and he was traded to the Chargers during the 1980 season. Muncie was even better in San Diego than he had been in New Orleans, and his presence as a runner bolstered an already strong Chargers offense. In 1981 he led the league with 19 touchdowns, and he was outstanding in the playoffs after that season: He rushed for 124 yards and a touchdown as the Chargers beat the Dolphins 41-38 in one of the greatest games ever played, and he was one of the few Chargers who played well the following week, when San Diego lost in freezing conditions in Cincinnati, gaining 94 yards on the ground while the Chargers lost to the Bengals 27-7 in the AFC Championship Game.

Muncie’s career came to an abrupt end in 1984 when Commissioner Pete Rozelle suspended him for the remainder of the season when he tested positive for cocaine after Week One. Although Muncie tried to come back with the Vikings in 1985, he quickly quit, saying he had issues in his personal life that he needed to get in order.

In 1989, Muncie was sentenced to 18 months in prison for selling cocaine. After he was released, however, he turned his life around, and spent his later years working with children, counseling adults who were struggling with drug addiction, and encouraging gang members to lead more productive lives. (One of Muncie’s pet projects was providing tattoo removal services for former gang members who wanted to get gang markings off their skin so they’d look presentable in job interviews.)

In an interview with the Los Angeles Times in 2008, Cal’s team doctor mentioned that Muncie made a point of being there any time an athlete at his alma mater who was going through a tough time could use some words of wisdom from someone who had been there before.

“Whenever we call, he makes himself available,” Dr. Bill Coysh said. “That’s what’s incredible about him. This is not a paid position. He does it because that’s how he is.”

That’s who Chuck Muncie was, a good running back who fell on hard times, but in the end lived the life of a good man.

75 responses to “Chuck Muncie dies at 60

  1. Wow, sorry to hear this. Muncie was one heck of player in his day, and helped lead the Chargers to the playoffs. R.I.P., Chuck.

  2. RIP Chuck. As a kid who wore glasses, I always liked seeing those few athletes (especially in the NFL) who wore glasses.

  3. Never have been a Charger fan, but I remember watching this guy (and his glasses) tear it up as part of those Air Coryell offenses back in the 80s.

    Sounds like he became the kind of guy after football who made a difference and will be missed. RIP.

  4. Watching Charger games as a kid, I remember being awed by Muncie’s sheer size, power, and speed. Although his career was cut short by drug addiction, his fall ignited a light that helped others on his eventual road to redemption. RIP Chuck Muncie.

  5. Chuck turned his life around..sad to hear that he passed away..RIP Chuck

  6. Big fan of Muncie and the early 80s Chargers. Was disappointed/mad when he was suspended for drug use, but I’m glad to know that he turned his life around and became a positivie influence. RIP Chuck Muncie.

  7. Sad to hear of his passing, but wonderful to hear a complete turn-around of a once drug addicted and obviously troubled man giving BACK to people to try and keep them from going through the tough times he endured. A shining example of what a man SHOULD be. We all make mistakes, it’s how we react that separates the men from the boys.

    RIP Muncie.

  8. Chuck Muncie was a stellar, 3 down back who was equally adept at running you over as he was juking the defender out of his cleats.

    He was an unsung component to those high octane Air Coryell offenses that dominated that era with an elegant, high-stepping take no prisoners style of running.

    He was a good man, issues notwithstanding, one of my boyhood idols, and he will sorely be missed.

  9. Would that the current spoiled brats could turn their lives around like Muncie did.

    A good example.


  10. He was “beast mode” at Cal before “beast mode” was born! He was super friendly when he was at Memorial Stadium over the years….he’ll be missed. Go Bears!

  11. As someone who has experienced acute MI and undergone CABG surgery, you have to be mindful of your health. 60 is too young. Remember, the primary symptom of heart disease is sudden death.

    RIP Chuck.

  12. We have to believe that the world is a better place because Chuck was in it.

    He had his problems, but he overcame those and that lead him to greatness off the field.

  13. Who are all the people thumbing down the posts expressing condolences and why? Muncie had personal demons to conquer, but he did. He could have easily given up and end up in prison for the rest of his life. Instead he turned his life around and made a difference to society and to others. Muncie wasn’t afraid to walk into gang-infested areas and confront gangbangers to talk to them about their life style.

    RIP to a great player and man.

  14. Those Air Coryell teams may never have made the Super Bowl let alone win one, but man, were they ever fun to watch. No game was ever over with them. That playoff game with Miami was the wildest post-season game I’ve ever watched.

    RIP Mr. Muncie. Your career may have been brief, but it was memorable.

  15. In his prime, Chuck Muncie was one of the most electrifying running backs ever. It’s sad to hear of his passing.

  16. Loved watching Muncie run. It’s good to see him get the recognition of being a post-football asset to the community.

  17. RIP. Chuck Muncie you were a great RB in your time. Muncie Night Football is the nick name that stands out with me.

  18. I hate to break this to you all….Everybody dies. It’s not sad or a time to reflect,really. I can’t believe how many of you ppl live in denial. You are all going to die. And guess what, Chuck Muncie wouldn’t care if you did.

  19. Bummer. One of my all-time favorite players. Very underrated……….what a stud.

    If memory serves, Don Shula traded for him when the Chargers were getting rid of him, but I think he failed the drug test so the trade was nullified.

    With his size, power and speed, Muncie really could have been one of the all-time greats. He was a freak!

    Glad to hear he got his life turned around and was helping others.

  20. I don’t understand the multiple thumbs down to the RIP comments. Muncie seemed to live a productive and useful life after football and the drug arrest. What gives thumb-downers?

  21. I remember watching the game between San Diego and Miami. WHAT A GAME. Dan Fouts, Chuck Muncie, Kellen Winslow. And then the frozen Bowl to follow. When Chuck had alotta injuries once I remember him sayin “Everything hurts. Even my hair hurts” He had some issues no doubt. But he fixed it and got it right. And remember, its not how you start, its how you finish.

  22. Muncie helped one of my guys…..He invited him to one of his summer combines with college coaches
    doing their camp thing.

    The kid he invited was one of those overlooked HS
    QB football players that refused to transfer for playing time. Muncie love that.

  23. Loved Muncie as a player, both in NO and SD. Going at 60 is young. Too bad. Reading accounts of his time in the Big Easy when Hank Stram was coach in the mid-70s is hilarious, though. Nothing Stram did got Muncie to heal. Muncie used to skip practice, blare his music from his hot-rod just past the fenced practice field and laugh at Stram. Stram wouldn’t suspend him because he knew Muncie was one of his best players. But Muncie walked all over him. Youth and drugs, I guess.

    San Diego beating Miami in 81 playoffs remains my favorite early football memory of all time – and I’m not even a Charger fan. Miami’s hook-and-ladder just before halftime has got to be among the top 5 plays of all time. Don Criqui (when he was still good) did great play-by-play.

  24. RIP Chuck…my favorite running back as a kid!….What a Chargers team…Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, Wes Chandler, John Jefferson, Robert Brooks, Kellen Winslow & Chuck Muncie!

  25. ryanthompson241 says:
    May 14, 2013 12:26 PM
    I hate to break this to you all….Everybody dies. It’s not sad or a time to reflect,really. I can’t believe how many of you ppl live in denial. You are all going to die. And guess what, Chuck Muncie wouldn’t care if you did.

    Really? Hmm…think we all know that everyone dies. Death and taxes are the only guarantees in life. However, to blatantly say it isn’t a time to reflect, remember, honor, etc those that we knew whether well or not so well, remembered, followed, had an impact in our life, no matter how big or small, etc, is just ignorant. Chuck Muncie might not care but it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t care about our loved ones, friends and family that are closest to us for sure and in turn/vice-versa they will remember you.

    And if you haven’t been paying attention over the years, the greater a legacy or contribution to our world/society a person makes, yes the more they will definitely be remembered and honored, and as well as they should IMO. The legacy and memories are all we leave behind, which is why it is important, no matter how big or small, to leave the world better than you found it, because we all can make a difference and are indeed players on a stage with a part to play–rant off.

    Oh, and R.I.P. and condolences to Muncie’s family.

  26. Wonderful player. Wonderful man.

    Muncie was an incredibly gifted running back. Those who never got to see him run really missed out. He had this gliding yet powerful style– he knew just when to turn on the juice and run through the holes made by Big Doug Wilkerson, Ed White, Donnie Macek, Shields and Russ Washington.

    He had some rough times, but turned to Christ and turned his life around. Thanks, Chuck, for being so fun to watch and for helping so many people.

    May God rest his soul.

  27. I can not believe all the thumb-downs for a good man that turned his life around only to be there when called upon to help others in need.God help those who don’t want to see the truth.

  28. Thanks, Michael. My knowledge of his life ended with the 1989 conviction. Good to know he got turned back around.

    RIP, Chuck Muncie.

  29. I hope the same idiots that are thumb downing all the rip comments have the same happen when they die. And I hope you have a slow painful one at that! Rottin inbreeds!

  30. Sometimes the ingorant just feel they have to be heard, if only just to prove how ignorant they truly are!

  31. There must be a lot of d-bag U$C/Stanfurd or Raider fans to thumb down the condolences to Chuck Muncie.

  32. Hate to hear this, 60 is way too young. Glad to hear he turned his life around in his later years. He had some great years with the Chargers in the early 80s, I remember them fondly.

  33. RIP Chuck, I recall as a little kid I started football and for some reason, your team was always on TV. I enjoy watching Dan Fouts, Winslow, Lionel “lil train” James, Wes Chandler and Charlie Joiner.

  34. How can positive comments get so many thumb downs? This is ridiculous. I’d love to be able to put a name-screen or username or a face to these people. What a joke? I know trolls are rampant in today’s society but I had no idea there were so many, as well as so many heartless/soulless people running around, although that one doesn’t surprise me as much with everything that goes on around us these days…SMH.

  35. Just forget the classless folks with down thumbs. Chuck Muncie was one of those dynamic players we had to take notice of in his day. He was tall, pretty fast, had the glasses, broke tackles and was fun to watch. Basicly an Eddie George type. He fumbled a little too much but was a great player who I hated too see career get done over by drugs.

    Here’s for waiting for the next 6″4 running back to break into the NFL.

  36. Thumbs down for the passing of a good player and good man?

    The idiocy of youth.

    Just wait, kids. As your grandparents, your parents, your favorite uncles and aunts and other loved ones start getting sick and dying.. You will realize what a crude fool you were.

    And then… one day it is your turn.

  37. How about there be no thumbs up/downs on stories like this? Surely you can do that right?

    Go ahead and thumbs down this one also you idiots.

  38. Based on all the thumbs down I guess this where the Westboro Baptist Church lives when not picketing funerals of our dead soldiers.

  39. Something must be wrong with the thumbs up/down program because it doesn’t make sense that there would be his many thumbs down. Or, somebody or somebodies are purposely sabotaging this thread.

  40. My first NFL game was the Browns against the Redskins, early 60’s with my Dad who grew up watching the Bears walking the sidelines as a fan. There have been only a handful of players in the 50 years since then with the speed, power, and overall ability of Chuck Muncie. Had his career not ended due to drug addiction he undoubtedly could have been among the greatest of all time. Glad to hear he straightened himself out and gave back to players who were headed down his road. Go back and view some of his highlights in the backfield with Chargers Fouts, Joiner, & Winslow. He was a true force on the field. May he rest in peace!

  41. I remember him being referred to as Chuck “Fumble” Muncy when he was with the Chargers. They knew how to hand out nick names back then.

  42. I saw Chuck Muncie play when he was in New Orleans. He was a free spirit during his prime, and had he concentrated on being a great player would have gone down as one of the great running backs in NFL history. Speed and Power and a long stride. When he seemed to have gained 2 yards it was a five yard gain. Give him credit for turning his life around unlike many people today. RIP Chuck Muncie.

  43. For all his many demons he turned his life around to help those that couldn’t manage their demons. RIP Chuck Muncie.

  44. Cannot grasp the negative thumbs down from so many people, Muncie was much easier to like than a whole lot of today’s players…

  45. I don’t know about you, but my personal validation and self-worth correlates directly to whether Internet strangers click on an upward or downward pointing thumb.

  46. Where all the thumbs down come from? 95% probability from Raider fans. Chuck was a beast!

  47. RIP Chuck Munice. You were one of the few bright spots in New Orleans during the years that we couldn’t break 500! You made us happy & I’m glad you died at peace from your demons.

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