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Spanos' Decision Puzzles Attorney : Klevan Expects a Clean Bill of Health for Chuck Muncie

March 29, 1985|CHRIS COBBS | Times Staff Writer

YUMA, Ariz. — Chuck Muncie's attorney said Thursday he expects a clean bill of health for the Charger running back and doesn't understand why team owner Alex Spanos has decreed Muncie will never suit up again for the team.

Keith Klevan, a Los Angeles-based attorney representing Muncie, said his client has satisfactorily complied with an after-care program for cocaine addiction, as directed by National Football League Commissioner Pete Rozelle.

Spanos, however, adamantly stuck by a statement he made Wednesday night, indicating Muncie's future with the Chargers was nonexistent.

"Chuck is in the league's hands now," Spanos said by phone Thursday afternoon from Kansas City. "He's a sick man. I've been taking care of him, but I'm through with him now.

"He won't ever play for the Chargers again, even if (Rozelle) lifts the suspension.

"I have not talked with the doctors and I don't know what his condition is. All I can tell you is, he will not play for this team again."

Klevan said he had not spoken to Spanos and was uncertain if he would make any form of appeal to Rozelle.

"I don't understand the basis for (Spanos') statement," Klevan said. "Based on my conversations with Chuck's therapist, he is doing well, and we expect a favorable decision from the commissioner on resuming his career."

Muncie was suspended last November in the wake of a tangled web of events that began with his missing a team flight to Seattle. He told Coach Don Coryell he was late because vandals had slashed the tires on his car.

Coryell didn't believe him.

Several days later the Chargers attempted to trade him to the Miami Dolphins, but the trade was voided after Muncie failed a urinalysis administered by the Dolphins.

Muncie then entered an Arizona drug rehabilitation center, where he remained for about one month. On Nov. 15, Rozelle suspended him indefinitely, pending a review of his case this spring.

Muncie was directed to submit to mandatory, random urinalysis tests as part of the terms set by Rozelle. Muncie has complied with the urinalysis tests and the results have been negative, according to Klevan.

"As far as I know he has submitted to each test as requested and there have been no positive results," Klevan said.

Based on Muncie's apparent progress in recovering from his drug problem, Klevan said he could not fathom Spanos' refusal to let him return to the Chargers.

Spanos refused to comment on Klevan's statement.

An NFL spokesman said the league is awaiting an updated report from Muncie's doctors and would have no further comment. A decision from Rozelle is expected in April.

The bottom line is that Muncie, whose history of drug problems extends back to the summer of 1982, when he was twice treated for drug problems, will play elsewhere if he plays at all in 1985.

The Chargers, of course, are in no way bound to retain his services, regardless of Rozelle's ruling. They are free to trade him or waive him, as they choose.

"Until there is a decision by the commissioner, every other issue is secondary," Klevan said when asked if he was considering an appeal or any form of legal action.

"Whether the Chargers have the right to terminate his contract is not an issue at this time, until Rozelle gives his verdict. And I would expect that he would comply with the recommendations of the therapist."

Muncie, 32, spent five years with the Chargers after beginning his NFL career with the New Orleans Saints. He appeared in only one game last season and gained 51 yards on 14 carries. He entered the 1984 season with a career total of 6,651 yards on 1,546 carries.

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