Chuck Muncie was a memorable Charger

Yes, those high-flying San Diego Chargers of the early 1980s were known as Air Coryell.

Yet one of the most memorable and recognizable figures on those teams was a hard-charging running back named Chuck Muncie. With a menacing bar down the center of his face mask and thick, black-frame glasses, the big, strong Muncie was a load for defenses around the league to handle.

Sadly, Muncie died Monday at the age of 60 after suffering a heart attack, according to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter. His death was confirmed later by the New Orleans Saints.

The California product was the No. 3 overall draft pick by the Saints in 1976. He was traded to the Chargers in 1980. He gave them a strong running presence, and quickly became a major part of an entertaining offense.

Muncie, though, had his demons. He was suspended in 1984 for drug use and his career was essentially over, although he attempted a brief comeback in Minnesota. Muncie was later sentenced to a short prison term for selling drugs. He did turn his life around, becoming a drug counselor and working with troubled youth.

Muncie is a memorable figure in Chargers history. This is a sad day for the organization. Thoughts go out to Muncie’s family and friends.

UPDATE: The Chargers released this statement on Muncie’s passing:

“Everyone at the Chargers is deeply saddened by the passing of Chuck Muncie, one of the greatest running backs in Chargers history. We will remember him as a tremendous athlete with a larger-than-life personality. It’s a sad day for all of us and all Chargers fans.”