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One day before the start of the '84 season, San Francisco's Bill Walsh got to thinking about Jack (Hacksaw) Reynolds, his 36-year-old linebacker. And he started to worry. "The guy's going into his 15th season," Walsh mused. "He's getting a little old. He might get hurt out there." So Walsh tried to talk Reynolds, the 49ers' defensive field general the past few years—when San Francisco is on offense, Reynolds diagrams plays on the sideline on what's known as Hacksaw's Chalkboard—into a coaching job. Reynolds would have none of it, saying he would look elsewhere—even the USFL—just so he could keep playing.
Walsh relented and decided that on first downs and on short yardage situations he'd start Hacksaw at weakside inside linebacker—the Plugger, as the club refers to the player in that position. And the Plugger he has been. Even with his limited playing time, he has 28 tackles in eight games, and the 49ers are 7-1. "Jack was right," Walsh says. "I was premature."
On their first day of nursery school, 2-year-old Evan Dennard, the son of Buffalo receiver Preston Dennard, and his classmate Kristen Ferguson, also 2, the daughter of Bills quarterback Joe Ferguson, got into a little skirmish. Upon hearing about the tiff from his wife, Jackie, Dennard admonished his son, "No! No! Don't fight with her. Daddy's got to get some passes."
If Chuck Muncie continues to show progress in his rehabilitation from alcohol and cocaine abuse, doctors for the San Diego running back plan to meet with Pete Rozelle in the next two weeks to recommend that Muncie be reinstated this season. And to prove his drug days are over, Muncie says he'll submit to random urinalyses.
"The doctors feel if Chuck is to recover completely that it's best that he play football," says George Deane, Muncie's attorney. "He has got to get back into the real world, to get on with his life."
Rozelle, who's proud of the NFL's drug rehab programs, is likely to give Muncie the O.K. " Art Schlichter's doctors advised that Art return as soon as possible to football as part of his rehabilitation [from compulsive gambling]," says Joe Browne, an NFL spokesman. And Colt quarterback Schlichter was reinstated this season. " Rozelle has always felt gambling is more serious; it goes to the heart of the game. If Chuck Muncie keeps up his aftercare, it's possible the commissioner will let him play this year."
Muncie, who spent from Sept. 17 to Oct. 17 at the Schulte Institute in Scottsdale, Ariz., is now an outpatient at San Diego's Scripps Clinic. He is also scheduled to attend several Alcoholics Anonymous and Cocaine Anonymous meetings each week.
"We're all to blame," Deane says. "Robyn [ Muncie's wife], me and everybody on the Chargers. We were all aware of it, but we let him go merrily on his way with a problem. Why? Because society coddles athletes; they're spoiled. We take care of them, and we excuse them.
"Chuck liked to drink a few beers. He smoked joints for a long time. But until he went to Miami, he never tested dirty. I told him before he got there, 'Your urine is clean 72 hours after you do cocaine. Don't screw this up.' So, he flunks his physical. Only then did I realize his intense drug hunger. I'd always thought it was recreational.
"When did he become an addict? Which drink put him over? Which line of cocaine was the turning point? I don't know. He might not even know.