The Saints Hall of Fame inducted two new members this week, Aaron Brooks and John Carney, and aside from some folks beating the s*** outta that same poor old dead horse, while completely ignoring Carney, the subject of Chuck Muncie came up in a thread on CSC. A few folks got to wondering about players who have not made it to the Saints HOF, and to me personally, the biggest and most glaring omission was Muncie. Okay, it wasn't really a few folks who were wondering about Muncie, it was just me and Coldpizza. It only seemed like a group of people were involved because me and the Pizzaman can get all threadjacky when we're talking Saints history. Or, anything else for that matter.
If you never saw Chuck Muncie play football then my comparisons to Jim Brown won't mean anything because you definitely didn't see Brown play either. But, at 6'3", 227 to 235 pounds, Muncie was a bona fide NFL stud at running back. He had speed and power. He could bust up a defensive player by running over him, or blow right past him like a gust of wind. If you like ‘em rough, rugged, and raw-boned like a razor, then Muncie was your type of player. My favorite Saints RB ever.
So, yes, I'm biased. But, I'm also just a fan. So, what the hell is the Saints HOF excuse for their bias against Muncie?
Look, I could give y'all a bunch of stats to make a case for Muncie's inclusion into the Saints HOF, but statistical analysis is completely unnecessary. Stats are not what has kept Muncie out of the Saints Hall. If they were, then there would be no place in the Hall for the likes of Tom Dempsey or Billy Kilmer. Or, quite a few other players for that matter. It is their continuing to hold his off the field "troubles" against him which has kept him out.
You see, Muncie was not only the first RB in Saints history to gain 1000 yards in a season, and was a part of the only group of skill players on one team in Saints history to be selected to the Pro Bowl in the same year (QB - Archie Manning, RB - Chuck Muncie, WR - Wes Chandler, TE - Henry Childs on the 1979 Saints), he also had personal demons.
Muncie was a drug addict.
Yeah, that's right. Muncie did cocaine. He didn't rape women across multiple states and he wasn't a gang member who was involved in multiple homicides while still playing in the NFL. Hell, he didn't even speak out against Michael Sam. Which would have been quite a feat considering that Muncie's been dead for a year. And it's not just bias. It's also due to complete effing ignorance that Muncie is not in the Hall. Too many folks in the local media and fans just don't know their Saints history. Fans, I can understand. But, media types? Who have access to loads of information? And it is their effing job know these things? Utterly, ridiculous.
How am I so sure that it is bias and ignorance that's keeping the Muncie out of the Hall?
Let's take a look.
Ken Trahan, general manager of the Saints Hall of Fame, said Muncie was probably the most talented runner New Orleans ever had.
"Once he got the corner, to see that guy get north and south with that speed for his size was frightening," Trahan said. "Chuck could lower his shoulder and run over people, run through people as well as just run away from them."
Muncie has been nominated for the Saints Hall of Fame, which is run independently from the club, but has not been enshrined as Galbreath has. Part of the reason, Trahan said, is because members of the Hall's selection panel say the drug use that coincided with the Saints' decision to trade him also was detrimental to the club, which went 1-15 the season he left.
"Clearly he had some issues off the field and he ended up paying a price for that," Trahan said, alluding both to the damage to his reputation and his jail time. "The beauty of that is he really overcame that, grew up and became a much better person."
Okay, um, let's get something straight right now. George Rogers is in the Saints HOF and he was a coke head just like Muncie. He was also traded away from the Saints. Traded by the same man who drafted him in the first place - Bum Phillips. Bum would have rather had a broken down, washed up, Earl Campbell than continue to deal with Rogers. Both Rogers and Muncie were a big part of successful teams after they left the Saints (Muncie with the Chargers and Rogers with the Redskins). It would seem to me that attempting to even partially blame Muncie for the Saints 1-15 season, or even hint at some vague correlation is complete nonsense. Muncie played in the first 4 games for the Saints during that season before being shipped off to San Diego. The Saints continued to clusterf*** that season on their own.
Maybe Benny Ricardo and Russell Erxleben could have made more kicks? Or, Archie not throw some of those interceptions? How about maybe the defense not have allowed the most points in a season in Saints history? That whole damn roster including the coaching staff and front office was "detrimental" to the team.
And just so we're clear. It was an entire culture of drug use which permeated throughout the Saints locker room during that period. It was a culture that was there before Muncie arrived and it continued to be there after he left. Which is why it could affect players and coaches like George Rogers and Bum Phillips who never played with or coached Muncie.
If you want to blame someone or hint at a correlation between drugs and the Saints being such losers during that period, you need to start with the Saints front office from the ownership on down to coaches who allowed such a free hand to former Saints players like Don Reese and Mike Strachan. If you don't know that story, then go learn it. There's a difference between a guy who harms himself by using drugs and guys who harm a team by selling drugs to its players. There's quite a list of Saints players including George Rogers, Dave Waymer, and Frank Warren (two more drug users in the Saints HOF) who were buying drugs from Mike Strachan even after he was no longer with the team.
But, Chuck Muncie is the poster boy for drugs and the losing culture on the Saints during that time?
Somebody needs their ass kicked.
Now, let's get to the ignorance. Another way that Muncie is kept out the Saints Hall is the sheer number of folks who think that he's already in there. And I'm not talking fans. I'm talking about media types who should know better. Because, um, you know.....it's their job?
Check out some news announcements when Muncie died last year.
Bradley Handwerger - WWL:
Chuck Muncie, a member of the New Orleans Saints Hall of Fame and former standout running back for the San Diego Chargers, has died at the age of 60.
From his hometown Newspaper, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette:
Mr. Muncie, a big bruising back who also had breakaway speed, formed one half of the Saints' "Thunder and Lightning" backfield with Tony Galbreath. Both Mr. Muncie and Mr. Galbreath were inducted into the Saints Hall of Fame.
The Associated Press:
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. Both running backs are now members of the Saints Hall of Fame.
(This quote from the AP was syndicated and used by newspapers nationwide along with countless websites all over the internet)
Dave Cariello - Canal Street Chronicles:
Former Saints running back and three-time Pro Bowler Chuck Muncie died today of a heart attack at the age of 60. Muncie was with the team from 1976, when he was drafted in the first round, to 1980 and is a member of the Saints's Hall of Fame.
Whoops.....(ahem). Okay, to be fair, Dave will be the first one to tell you that he is not part of the media. He's just a fan like anyone else. He just also happens to have a pretty large platform to express himself as a fan. Dave has also reminded me a couple of times, whenever I have tweaked some of the younger fans on CSC who may not have had their facts straight on certain aspects of Saints history, to remember the he is also one of the younger generation of fans who may have not seen or heard of a particular player.
I only included a quote from Dave's article to show how wrong information can spread. Most folks just copy and paste from a selected source, don't question it, and move on. I'm sure Dave just did the same thing and thought nothing of it. No big deal. And it's not, really. Except, how can folks ever wonder why Chuck Muncie is NOT in the Saints HOF if there are so many places on the web that say he's already made it?
Anyway, the folks over at the Saints HOF who are responsible for selecting inductees need to have their feet held to the fire over this glaring omission. Especially, since both they and the Saints team had such wonderful things to say about Muncie when he died last year. Also, aside from bias and ignorance, there's also apathy. The Saints HOF is so busy inducting players who played in the 1990's and beyond that they haven't opened their doors to a player whose last game as a Saint was in the 60's, 70's, or 80's since Dave Whitsell and Dave Waymer in 1996. 18 years ago. Who has time to care about Chuck Muncie, right?
Oh, by the way, Chuck Muncie is NOT in the Saints HOF but he IS in the New Orleans Saints Hall of Honor over at Saints drive in the team facility. Huh? What? The team that Muncie played for recognizes his contribution to the franchise but the Saints Hall of Fame does not?
Somebody needs their ass kicked.