Muncie was a Heisman trophy runner up to Ohio State’s Archie Griffin in 1975, top draft pick of the New Orleans Saints in 1976 – traded to San Diego in 1980. He fashioned a 10-year career in pro football and was a three-time Pro Bowler and rushed for over 6,000 yards in his pro career.
Muncie is a link to the great players in Uniontown’s past but he brings a strong message to today’s athletes. It wasn’t anything on the field that brought Muncie to his knees – it was the demons off
Muncie became addicted to cocaine after he entered the pros and the long downward spiral led to his arrest and a 2 1/2 year jail sentence.
“I woke up every morning in that cell for 2 1/2 years, looking at myself in the mirror,” Muncie says. “I had seen enough.
Muncie did something about it. He sought help and beat his cocaine addiction.
“Life is good and it’s nice to be clean and sober and living the life that was meant to be,” Muncie stated. “It’s a fulfilling thing everyday for me.
“The financial part of it is one thing, but also the lifestyle. I think there are a lot of guys we deem successful that still have their demons chasing them and one thing I can honestly say is I don’t have any demons now.
“I’ve accepted my life and I’ve sort of overcome the financial catastrophe that took place and the family life is good. I’m with a great woman now and my daughter’s grown and we’re happy and life goes on. You can’t sit and dwell on things in the past, all you can do is make a difference in your future.”
Muncie came from a sports family. One of six kids, his three older brothers all played pro football. So the seeds were planted at an early age.
“That was just something we did,” Muncie explained. “That’s how East End was back in Uniontown. I lived right across the street from East End playground and playing sports was a part of our everyday life and fortunately it was something that propelled me to the heights that I achieved.
“There was a big age gap between me and my brothers although when people ask me who were the most outstanding athletes that you look up to – I say my brothers because they were all very successful.
“It was something that was never forced on us there was never any pressure on us to play sports. My mom and dad were into academics and believed that no matter what you did you would be able to achieve if you put your nose to the grindstone.”
Muncie didn’t play football at Uniontown after a tackle left him with a concussion – his mother forbade him to play football and Muncie concentrated on basketball and got a scholarship to Arizona Western and then fate stepped in.
“One of the coaches, Charlie Dine, had actually played in Canada against my brother Bill,” Muncie recalled. “He recognized the name Muncie although it was spelled different - he saw on the transcript that I was from Uniontown, PA, so he called my brother Bill and asked if he had a younger brother named Chuck and my brother said yes.
“Charlie asked if he could play football and my brother said yeah, he’s very good, but my mom wouldn’t let him finish out his senior year because of an injury but if you can ever get him out on the field you might have yourself a pretty good ballplayer.”
Muncie was persuaded to play football because of the extra stipend he would earn.
Following one year at Arizona Western Muncie was recruited heavily by Stanford, but John Ralston left Stanford for the Denver Broncos and his assistant Mike White became the head coach at the University of California and convinced Muncie to come to Berkeley.
Muncie led resurgence at Cal and almost won the Heisman trophy in 1975. As a Golden Bear Muncie toted the ball 549 times for 3,052 yards, an average of 5.6 yards a carry. He scored 32 rushing touchdowns. He also caught 97 passes for 1,085 yards and six touchdowns.”
“Not winning the Heisman Trophy, that was a heartbreaker,” Muncie recalled. “There were two things that broke my heart my senior year.
“One we didn’t go to the Rose Bowl because back then they didn’t have all the Bowl games and it was a coin toss and UCLA won to go to the Rose Bowl and then I lost the Heisman trophy by two votes against Archie Griffin. Ricky Bell who was a sophomore at USC got four votes and those four votes made me lose by two.”
Drafted by New Orleans in 1976 and then traded to San Diego in 1980 – Muncie rushed for 6,702 yards and 71 touchdowns in his NFL career and caught 263 passes for 2,323 yards and three touchdowns.
He has no regrets about his NFL career.
“I am very satisfied with my accomplishments in the NFL and I’m definitely recognized by my peers as being one of the top backs that ever played the game,” Muncie explained. “For me when those guys acknowledge me and your record still stands – one or two of them still stand and here it is 20 years later and they are still in the book that’s not too bad.”
These days Muncie, 59, concentrates on the Chuck Muncie Foundation based in Southern California and travels around the country with the MSL combines giving exposure to high school football players.