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
expose, "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
Muncie, who also has business interests in sports marketing and
a clothing company, lives in Oxnard, Calif., with his fiancee,
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."
COLOR PHOTO: JOHN IACONO
COLOR PHOTO: TODD BIGELOW/AURORA
Despite his addictions, Muncie's 71 NFL rushing TDs were ninth
alltime when he retired.