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Muncie was the Saints‘ first-round pick, third overall, out of California in 1976. He played 4 1/2 seasons in New Orleans before being traded in 1980 to San Diego, where he finished his nine-year NFL career.
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.
Saints owner 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.”
Muncie 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.
His 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.
Thereafter, 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 a difference.”
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.”
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