Early in the 2020 season the New Orleans Saints & Los Angles Chargers met for the first time in an exciting Monday night game the Saints won 30-27. Ok, It was actually the 13th time the two had met but the 1st with the Chargers back in LA after playing in San Diego from its 2nd year in 1961 until 2016. Chargers lead the series 7-6 and that first game, in late 1973, may have been one of the latest first-ever matchups of old AFL vs NFL after the 1970 merger. The Saints were an expansion NFL club in 1967 that took 20 years to win more games than it lost in a season. That strike year of 1987 in which the Saints went 12-3 but lost at home to the Minnesota Vikings in the Wildcard round was the season before the Saints first-ever win over the Chargers in 1988. San Diego had been 3-0 against the Saints allowing 14 point in that ’73 victory while the next two games, played in 1977 & 1979, saw the Chargers win by a combined score of 49-0. The Saints have now won the last 4 meetings and Charger fans that didn’t follow the club in 2004 have never seen their team beat the guys from Louisiana.
It was probably my senior year in High School that I met a guy that played almost equal amounts of time for both these organizations. Chuck Muncie was drafted in 1976 by the Saints and made the Pro-Bowl in ’79 with 4 other teammates that posted their best ever team record at 8-8. He was a really interesting character that left a team that seemed to have talent 4 games into the 1980 season. By ’80 fans began rooting for the team with bags on their heads and ‘Aints written across the top. It was an all-time low for this non- winning franchise as they could only beat the in N.O. and finished 1-15.
CHARGERS GET AN AMAZING RUNNER TO GO WITH ITS PASSING GAME
He played 11 games in 1980 for the San Diego Chargers as he joined a powerhouse team know as ‘Air Coryell’… named so for head coach Don Coryell’s use of a great QB in Dan Fouts and an incredible stable of guys that could catch and run… like a Charger. Chuck had all the accolades a running back on a team known for passing could want as he left the worst team in the NFC (and NFL) and ended up playing in the AFC Championship game (a loss to the eventual Champion Oakland Raiders)! Going from jersey #42 to #46 in So. Cal Muncie made the ProBowl again in ’81 & ’82 while leading the league in rushing TD’s in 1981 with 19. I am a much bigger fan of the Charger organization these days than I was when I met him and got signatures the cards you see pictured below. In fact its hard to believe I went into watching that AFC title game with only a little more love for the Chargers than the zero I had/have for the Raiders. If you love football and its history read his page on wikipedia.com to really get a feel for how great a player he was and could have been had he not had a drug problem that started early in his 9 year career. Chuck averaged about 3350 total rushing yards for each franchise he played for while playing just one game his final season in 1984 at age 31. He passed not long after turning 60 in 2013. The fact this guy had the stuff needed to pass Walter Payton’s career rushing record if unencumbered is what people thought.
Really interesting that the back of Chuck’s 1977 rookie card states: Has 3 brothers– Bill of the B.C. Lions, George of the Minnesota Vikings & Nelson, still active with the Colts. At pro-football-reference.com Bill is not listed since I guess he never made the NFL, Nelson (look for his card in the picture here also) shows several years with the Baltimore Colts and George I could not find a record of… maybe because as you see on Nelson’s card his name is spelled Munsey and it could be another spelling for George’s last name that I am missing. I am giving a NFL Since 1970 book to the 1st fan that can email and tell how that came to be after researching why there are at least two spellings of their last name. It’s a blast to learn NFL team and player history!
As far as how these clubs rank in my NFL Since 1970 publication both came into the 2020 season separated by a .005 winning percentage in all 776 regular season games played since they merged their leagues in 1970. As we sit a quarter into what we hope will be a full 2020 season the Saints have narrowed the gap for that 21st spot out of 32 teams.
(L.A. Now 367-409-5 While N.O. Is 366-411-4 Since 1970)
One final note: While the Saints have never totaled more wins than loses in their team history when win / loss records are complied the Chargers were an early American Football League powerhouse. LA/SD played in 5 of the first 6 AFL title games (there was only 10 played from ’60 to ’69). In 1963 they won their only title by beating the Boston Patriots 51-10 in the only title game Patriots fans saw until getting trounced again by the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XX (Jan. 1986). Ironically it was the Bears that the Chargers would have faced after that ’63 season had the Super Bowl match up between AFL & NFL Champs started 3 seasons earlier. All that said to state the fact that going into the week 1 game of 2020 against the league’s worst team, the Cincinnati Bengals, the Chargers would become a non-losing franchise with a 453-453-11 record with a win. They did beat Bengal rookie QB Joe Burrow in his first game but have fallen to 453-457-11 since.
Please email me if interested in learning more about NFL Since 1970 or learning about my talks that I give on pro-football history. Thanks for reading