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Mack Willie Herron (July 24, 1948 – December 6, 2015) was a professional American football running back who played in the National Football League from 1973 to 1976. He played college football at Kansas State, where he finished second in the nation in scoring during his senior season in 1969.[1]

Mack Herron
No. 26, 42
Born:(1948-07-24)July 24, 1948
Biloxi, Mississippi
Died:December 6, 2015(2015-12-06) (aged 67)
Chicago, Illinois
Career information
CFL statusInternational
Height5 ft 5 in (165 cm)
Weight170 lb (77 kg)
CollegeKansas State
NFL draft1970 / Round: 6 / Pick: 143
Drafted byAtlanta Falcons
Career history
As player
19701972Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL)
1973–1975New England Patriots
1975Atlanta Falcons
Career highlights and awards
CFL All-Star1972
CFL West All-Star1971, 1972
Awards1972 Eddie James Memorial Trophy


Standing 5 feet 5 12 inches (1.66 metres) and weighing in at 170 pounds (77.1 kg), Herron was selected by the Atlanta Falcons in the sixth round (143rd overall) of the 1970 NFL Draft,[2] but joined the Canadian Football League out of college.[citation needed]

In 1972, while playing for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, he won the Eddie James Memorial Trophy for being the leading rusher in the CFL's West Division. He led the league in all-purpose yards in both of his CFL seasons.[citation needed] The Blue Bombers released him as a result of a drug arrest in May 1972.[3]

Herron moved to the NFL in 1973, when he joined the New England Patriots. He later played for the Atlanta Falcons. In three seasons, he gained 1,298 rushing yards and scored 9 rushing touchdowns.[4] He also caught 61 passes in his career for 789 yards and 6 touchdowns.[5]

After leading the NFL in kickoff returns and kickoff return yardage in 1973, Herron's best season was 1974 with the Patriots, when he set the then-NFL record[6] for all-purpose yards with 2,444.[7] The Patriots released him midway through the following season, with coach Chuck Fairbanks claiming the release was the result of disappointment with Herron's performance that season and with a late night party Herron threw for teammate Leon Gray.[8] He was then signed by the Falcons.[8] He remains 16th all time in career punt return average and 86th in kickoff return average. In 2009, he was named by the Patriots Hall of Fame nomination committee to the Patriots All-Decade Team for the 1970s as a kick returner.[9]

Herron, a devout Muslim who did not drink or smoke, was arrested some 20 times and served jail time, mainly on drug convictions, according to Chicago Police.[3] He died on December 6, 2015, at the age of 67.[10]


  1. ^ MacCambridge, Michael (Ed.). ESPN College Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of the Game, p. 1291. ESPN Books, 2005. ISBN 1-4013-3703-1.
  2. ^ "NFL Draft History: By Team". Retrieved on May 11, 2013.
  3. ^ a b Sinclair, Gordon. "How heroin felled a hero". Winnipeg Free Press, April 2, 2013. Retrieved on May 11, 2013.
  4. ^ Neft, David S. & Cohen, Richard M. The Football Encyclopedia: The Complete History of Professional NFL Football from 1892 to the Present. St. Martin's Press, 1991. ISBN 0-312-05089-5.
  5. ^ Neft & Cohen, p. 694.
  6. ^ Neft & Cohen, p. 576.
  7. ^ Coleman, Jim. "Some demand flash, some a work-horse". Montreal Gazette, July 12, 1978, p. 55. Retrieved on May 11, 2013.
  8. ^ a b "Patriots Back Fired Because of a Party?". The Afro American. November 22, 1975. p. 9. Retrieved May 11, 2018.
  9. ^ "Patriots All-Decade teams announced". 2009-03-31. Retrieved 2016-04-25.
  10. ^ Healey, Tim (December 7, 2015). "Former Patriot Mack Herron dies at 67". Boston Globe. Retrieved December 12, 2015.