November 24, 1975
When no one is in at the Chuck Muncie Youth Foundation in Camarillo, Calif., Muncie's voice delivers the typical answering machine spiel. But when the voice says, "If you're calling about our tattoo removal program, please call our tattoo removal hotline," you realize that Muncie's foundation isn't doing typical work. "Each person who has a gang tattoo removed does 40 hours of volunteering for every session that's required to take off the tattoo," Muncie says. "Each tattoo takes about six sessions, and most of the people who call have more than one." That explains how last year the foundation contributed $800,000 worth of labor for day-care centers, hospitals, churches and libraries in Ventura County.
The 1975 Heisman runner-up at Cal, Muncie amassed 6,702 rushing yards and 74 touchdowns in a nine-season pro career with the New Orleans Saints and San Diego Chargers. Muncie's 71 rushing touchdowns were ninth alltime when he retired, and his 19 TDs led the NFL in '81, despite serious substance abuse. As former Saints and Chargers teammate Don Reese wrote in an '82 SI expos�, " Muncie has to be a superman to do what he does on the field and use coke the way he does off it."
In 1984, after Muncie tested positive for cocaine and other drugs, the NFL suspended him for a year. He retired in '85 and hit bottom in '89, when he went to federal prison for perjury and dealing cocaine. After serving 17 months, Muncie moved to Bullhead City, Ariz., "the middle of nowhere," he says, to escape his old crowd. He ran Boys and Girls Clubs in Arizona and California and began the foundation (www.chuckmuncie.org) in '93 to help teens by providing job training and by removing barriers—like gang tattoos—to employment.
Muncie's past helps guide some of the foundation's present work. "We have a partnership with the U.S. Forest Service to maintain the Rose Valley Recreation Area, in Southern California, where there will be a drug and alcohol recovery facility for juveniles," Muncie says. "There's also a mentoring program at Cal that teaches athletes victim awareness and anger management. I wish something like this had been in place when I was in school."
Muncie, who also has business interests in sports marketing and a clothing company, lives in Oxnard, Calif., with his fianc�e, Laura Pasion, her three children and his 17-year-old daughter, Danielle, from a previous relationship. "The foundation is what gets me up and puts a smile on my face," Muncie says. "This is my therapy. Jail gave me time to figure things out, and now by serving others, I'm serving myself."