FOXBOROUGH, Mass. – The New England Patriots are saddened to learn of the loss of former running back and return specialist Mack Herron, who died yesterday in Chicago at the age of 67.
Herron signed with the Patriots in 1973 after two seasons with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League. The 5-foot-5-inch, 175-pound back was affectionately nicknamed "Mini Mack for his diminutive size and became a fan favorite for his electrifying returns and explosive offensive contributions, despite only playing in New England for two-and-a-half seasons (1973-75).
In his first season with the Patriots, he led the NFL in kickoff return yardage (1,092) and broke eight Patriots return records while totaling 1,839 all-purpose yards in 1973, second only to O.J. Simpson that year. In 1974, his legend grew when he finished ahead of Sam Cunningham as the team's leading rusher with 824 yards and seven touchdowns while also leading the team with 38 receptions, including a team-high five receiving touchdowns. He also led the team in kickoff and punt returns. That year, he finished with 2,444 all-purpose yards for the Patriots, which broke Gale Sayers' 1966 NFL single-season all-purpose yardage record of 2,440 yards.
Born on July 24, 1948 in Biloxi, Miss., he grew up on Chicago's West Side and was a football standout at Farragut High School. He played his college ball at Kansas State and had a sensational senior season when he led the Wildcats in rushing and led the Big 8 Conference in receiving. He scored 21 touchdowns as a senior, which ranked second in the nation behind Oklahoma's Heisman Trophy winner, Steve Owens. Drafted in the sixth round of the 1970 NFL draft by the Atlanta Falcons, Herron opted for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers instead, where he twice led the CFL in all-purpose yardage.