Chuck Muncie, NFL Pro Bowl running back, dies at 60

Chuck Muncie played half of his nine seasons in San Diego.
1983 FILE/AP
Chuck Muncie played half of his nine seasons in San Diego.

NEW YORK — Chuck Muncie, a three-time Pro Bowl running back who once held the National Football League record for rushing touchdowns in a season before his career was cut short by cocaine use, died Monday of a heart attack, according to the NFL’s website. He was 60.

Mr. Muncie was the third overall pick of the New Orleans Saints in the 1976 NFL draft out of the University of California, where he finished second to Archie Griffin in voting for the 1975 Heisman Trophy. At 6-foot-3 and 227 pounds, Mr. Muncie teamed with fellow rookie Tony Galbreath as part of a Saints backfield known as ‘‘Thunder and Lightning.’’

Mr. Muncie spent his first 4½ NFL seasons in New Orleans and was voted the Most Valuable Player at the 1979 Pro Bowl before joining the Chargers for 4½ years.


In 1981, Mr. Muncie rushed for 1,114 yards and set a then-NFL record with 19 rushing touchdowns. For his career, he rushed for 6,702 yards and 71 touchdowns while averaging 4.3 yards a carry.

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He was suspended by the NFL for the 1984 season after testing positive for cocaine use. He did not play again.

In 1989, Mr. Muncie was in a federal prison, serving an 18-month sentence on cocaine distribution charges.

Mr. Muncie had said going to jail probably saved his life.

Following his release, he became active in community service and founded the Chuck Muncie Youth Foundation to mentor at-risk youth in Southern California. In addition to helping troubled youth change their lives, the foundation reaches tens of thousands of youths with free medical services, according to its website.


‘‘I had everything, and I ruined it all because of drugs,’’ Mr. Muncie said in a 1995 Los Angeles Times. ‘‘I’m angry at myself. ... But when I feel that way, I look at this club and these kids and remember there is a reason for everything. I believe in my heart I was meant to do this.’’