Saints Pivotal Moments
1976: Stram Drafts "Thunder and Lighning"
The Saints held the third pick in the 1976 NFL Draft thanks to a dismal 2-12 record in 1975.
Normally, fans are excited when their team gets the opportunity to select one of the best players coming out of college. A 2-12 team obviously needs help on both sides of the ball. But the Saints' track record with high draft choices was abysmal. Even when they picked a promising talent, they traded him before he blossomed.
Here's the list of their first round picks before 1976.
  1. 1968: #7 DT Kevin Hardy (Notre Dame) - injured in the College All Star game and never played a down for the Saints; played four years for other clubs
  2. 1969: #17 G John Shinners (Xavier) - started only four games for the Saints in three years before moving to other teams
  3. 1970: #10 WR Ken Burrough (Texas Southern) - Did not start a game in his one season with the Saints; traded to Houston for whom he caught 421 passes for 7,102y in 11 seasons
  4. 1971: #2 QB Archie Manning (Ole Miss) - started 63 games for the Saints through 1975
  5. 1972: #8 G Royce Smith (Georgia) - started 13 games for the Saints before being traded to Atlanta for the 1974 season, where he started only five games the next two seasons
  6. 1974: #13 LB Rick Middleton (Ohio State) - didn't start his first year, then started all 14 games his second year before being traded to San Diego
  7. 1975: #7 WR Larry Burton (Purdue) - started 12 games in '75, catching 16 passes for 305y
A source of hope for Saints fans heading into the '76 draft was their new coach, Hank Stram. He coached the Kansas City Chiefs to the first Super Bowl in 1966, then won the Super Bowl after the '69 season. He won 124 games in 15 seasons with the Dallas Texans and Chiefs.
In his autobiography, Stram recalled, "The Saints quarterback, Archie Manning, was a mover and had a terrific arm. However, the team was doing terribly. Even so, the tempta­tion to build a new team was too great to resist."
With an offensive background, Stram was expected to use the #3 choice on that side of the ball. In a down year for quarterbacks, the top-rated offensive players heading into the draft were running backs Chuck Muncie from California and Joe Washington from Oklahoma.

L-R: Hank Stram, Archie Manning, Chuck Muncie, Tony Galbreath
As expected, the expansion Tampa Bay Buccaneers chose DE Lee Roy Selmon from Oklahoma. The other expansion team, the Seattle Seahawks, also went for defense–DT Steve Niehaus from Notre Dame. Selmon would have an outstanding nine-year career with the Bucs that put him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Niehaus was a bust, lasting only four seasons in the league.
That allowed the Saints to select 6'3" 225lb RB Chuck Muncie from California. Stram called Muncie "a powerful runner with good speed."
In the second round, the Saints chose another running back, Tony Galbreath from Missouri. Stram praised him as "a terrific blocker and receiver." That description proved to be spot-on.
The day before the regular season began, an article by Bob Roesler in the Times-Pica­yune used the term "Lightning" for RB Muncie and "Thunder" for FB Galbreath. The terms came from Stram himself, who proclaimed the two rookies as starters in his back­field.
The Stram Era in New Orleans proved to be a major disappointment. The Saints im­proved to 4-10 in '76 despite Manning missing the entire season with a shoulder injury. When the team, with Manning back in control, retrogressed to 3-11 in '77, owner John Mecom fired Stram and replaced him with Dick Nolan.
Muncie (659) and Galbreath (570) were 1-2 in rushing yards for the Saints in '76. Tony was by far the leader in receptions with 54 and finished second to WR Don Herrmann in yardage (535 to 420).
With Archie back under center in '77, Muncie gained 811y rushing and Galbreath 644. Tony again led the team with 41 receptions.
Muncie's disappointing tenure with the Saints ended in 1980 after he became part of the cocaine scandal on the team. He finished his career with San Diego.
Galbreath lasted one more year than Muncie before heading to Minnesota and then the Giants. His final season with the Saints, 1980, was plagued by injuries, and he gained only 308y on the ground.
Manning said of Muncie, "Chuck was one of those backs who come along every eight to 10 years. He could have been one of the all-time greats. He was that big and that fast."