In the dog days of summer, there is always time to reminiscence about the New Orleans Saints teams from yesteryear. The year 1979 was, to say the least, captivating. So what was going in the world at the time? Before the turn of the decade, certain luxuries were no doubt legendary. The Sony Walkman retailed at $200.00 for those who could afford one. The gaming system Atari made it feel as if the future was moving fast. Blockbuster opened its doors. A network called ESPN debuted on September 7th, 1979. And running back Chuck Muncie delighted Saints fans with his pure talent.
Chuck Muncie and the New Orleans Saints First Non-Losing Season
Also in 1979, the New Orleans Saints were trying to achieve their first non-losing season after 12 years as a franchise. And Muncie was instrumental in helping the team achieve that goal. But not everyone knows, Muncie did a lot more than just run the ball. Former teammate Willie Buchanan commented after the funeral on Muncie’s effect. Buchanan stated, “he would better his teammates just because he would walk in a room and it would light up.”
Honestly, the intangibles Chuck Muncie brought were new to many Saints fans, if they were to look back at the footage that is available, though it is difficult to find. And make no mistake, Muncie was way before his time given his size and speed. Former teammate Doug Wilkerson said it best, saying “when Muncie ran, you can feel the ground shake.”
This was no exaggeration and Muncie did things without much off-season training. Back then, no one really took the off-season to improve, but Muncie took it to another level. Don Coryell got on Muncie and questioned his commitment after Muncie pulled up in a pickup truck with a cigarette in his mouth. But Muncie got on the field and ran a 4.5 40-yard dash. In turn, Coryell responded, “Ok you’re good!”
Muncie’s Legacy Speaks for Itself
And the Saints as a whole desperately counted on Muncie in 1979. After finishing the previous season 7-9, their best until 1979, the expectations were high until an 0-3 start. However, the Saints made a run to tie the Los Angeles Rams with a few games to play. But the debacle on Monday Night Football against the Oakland Raiders put an end to the Saints playoff hopes. Regardless, Muncie totaled 1,198 yards on 238 carries and 11 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 40 passes out of the backfield. With Tony Galbreath, the twosome was called “Thunder and Lightning.”
Unfortunately, the Saints missed the playoffs but finished 8-8, their best record until that point. And Chuck Muncie received MVP honors and starred in the Pro Bowl.
Muncie Rejuvenated His Life After Football
All in all, the Saints were winners that year and Chuck Muncie would eventually get traded to the San Diego Chargers and played even more valiantly out on the west coast. Muncie would face demons later in life after football but bounced back to do a lot of good in the community. His longtime friend and teammate Miles McPherson from the Chargers elaborated more about what Muncie did, and the actions to which he dedicated himself. McPherson, who became the pastor at Rock Church, commented after Muncie’s passing.
“Chuck was happy to be alive. My fondest memories after he played and after he got off the drugs was his heart was full of gold,” McPherson said. “He was helping kids, happy go-lucky and happy to be alive. That was the Chuck we knew.”