Winnipeg Blue Bombers

- 1972 -

10 Wins 6 Losses - 1st Place West Division

East: W L T F A   Most Outstanding Player Garney Henley (Ham)
Hamilton 11 3 0 372 262   Most Outstanding Canadian Jim Young (BC)
Ottawa 11 3 0 298 228   Most Outstanding Defensive Player John Helton (Cgy)
Montreal 4 10 0 246 353   Most Outstanding Rookie Chuck Ealey (Ham)
Toronto 3 11 0 254 298   Coach of the Year Jack Gotta (Ott)
               
West:             Playoffs Mtl11 @ Ott 14
Winnipeg 10 6 0 401 300     Ham 7 @ Ott 19
Edmonton 10 6 0 380 368     Ott 8 @ Ham 23
Saskatchewan 8 8 0 330 283     Sask 8 @ Edm 6
Calgary 6 10 0 331 394     Sask 27 @ Wpg 24
BC 5 11 0 254 380   Grey Cup Hamilton 13 Sask 10

 

Don Jonas hands off to Mack Herron

 

Mini-Mack and the 1972 Blue Bombers

The year was '72, and the winner was Garney Henley

 When he got into drug trouble, his nickname was changed to "Smack" Herron from "Mini-Mack."

The Vancouver Province - October 30, 2008

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When he got into drug trouble, his nickname was changed to "Smack" Herron from "Mini-Mack."

 

His star was intensely bright, but fleeting. He was the only offensive player in the CFL to lose the outstanding player award to a defensive player.

 

That would have been in 1972, when Hamilton Tiger-Cat great Garney Henley beat the flashy and explosive 5-foot-5 running back from the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, who burst onto the scene in 1970.

 

Herron, Jim Thorpe and square-jawed quarterback Don Jonas transformed the moribund double blue into a force again.

 

His is a name fewer and fewer remember as the years go by, and is only germane now because the B.C. Lions' outstanding defensive end, Cam Wake, has been nominated as the team's outstanding player as well as outstanding defensive player.

 

Truth be told, Henley played as much on offence as defence, and returned punts and kickoffs, too. Henley had come into the CFL as a defensive back, and been nominated four previous times before finally winning in '72.

 

Having worked at the Winnipeg Free Press back in the day, I recall that Mack believed that the voting for the award that year was racially motivated. He was African American and Henley was white, and Mack thought he should have won based on performance.

His numbers were impressive. He led the league with 1,527 yards rushing and scored 16 touchdowns, including a 120-yard kickoff return against Edmonton.

 

But there were the disquieting off-field stories about wild parties and drug abuse that were being tolerated by the football team management.

 

Mack was released by Winnipeg after being busted for marijuana by the Winnipeg police following the '72 season and waived out of the CFL.

 

He was selling jeans in Chicago when rediscovered by New England Patriots scout Dick Steinberg, his former college coach. In 1973, only O.J. Simpson had more combined yards in the NFL than Herron.

 

He gained 2,444 yards as a starting back and return specialist in 1974 to shatter the NFL combined-yardage record set in 1966 by Gale Sayers. He accounted for 40 per cent of the Patriots' yards.

 

And then he was gone. Atlanta cut him in 1975 amid drug stories. He did go to jail, but nobody who played with him has heard of him in a long, long time. Wikipedia only has a couple of old stories.

 

"It says something," said former Winnipeg teammate Paul Robson, "that when his name comes up now the first two questions are: 'Is he still in jail? Is he still alive?'

 

"I remember Mickey Doyle, who played middle linebacker for us and had been at Kansas when Mack was at Kansas State, after we'd heard he was coming, saying: 'Oh boy, we've got trouble coming'.

 

"But he was an amazing guy. He was a great in the locker room and on the field. He practised hard and he was a great player. He just couldn't get it together away from football."

 

With Herron in the backfield and returning kicks, the Bombers improved from 2-14 in 1970, his rookie season, to 10-6 and first place in the West Division two years later.

 

Robson, who was an offensive lineman and linebacker and who became the Bombers' general manager and is presently on the board of directors, is as tapped in to alumni happenings as anyone.

 

"There was an underlying tone that it was Garney's turn," said Robson.

"He was a great player and an outstanding citizen.

 

"My recollection is that in the context of the time, you could understand Mack's reaction."

 

Longtime Winnipeg Tribune sports editor and in-season football writer Jack Matheson had another interesting theory.

 

"They really played up the Henley for Schenley," said Matheson.

 

Schenley Distillers was the sponsor of the player awards back then.

 

 

1972 Team Statistics

 

Quarterback

  Passing           Rushing    
Att Cmp Yds Pct. TD Int Lg C Yds Avg Lg TD
Don Jonas 447 252 3,583 56.4 27 26 97 18 81 4.5 21 1
Tommy Pharr 27 9 203 33.3 1 2 69 21 186 8.9 40 1

 

Running Back

  Rushing         Receiving  
C Yds Avg Lg TD C Yds Avg Lg TD
Mack Herron 258 1,527 5.9 65 11 39 451 11.6 55 4
Ed Williams 98 494 5.0 47 3 2 51 25.5 33 1
Mike Richardson 24 109 4.5 16 0          

 

Receiver

  Receiving       Punt Return  
C Yds Avg Lg TD No Yds Avg Lg TD
Jim Thorpe 70 1,260 18.0 97 11          
Paul Williams 60 817 13.6 69 8          
Bob LaRose 49 929 19.0 73 5          
Paul Markle 31 266 8.6 20 0          
Bob Kraemer 13 142 10.9 20 0 9 25 2.8 12 0
Pete Ribbins           55 309 5.6 41 0
                   
            Kick Return  
Mack Herron           17 552 32.5 120 1
Paul Williams           23 482 21.4 44 0

 

Kicker

Conv     Field Goal      
A G % A G % LG Pts
Don Jonas 48 45 93.7 21 14 67 42 90

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Winnipeg Stadium

Avg Att: 24,664

 

Week 1 @ Calgary

CALGARY 31

Winnipeg 7

Att 22,386

Calgary's Larry Robinson showed why he is the all-time WFC scoring leader, with 18 points. The DB scored a TD on an interception, kicked two FGs, picked up three singles and three converts

 

Week 2 v. Calgary

WINNIPEG 41

Calgary 14

 Att 25,210

Winnipeg, paced by a three TD performance by Mack Herron, defeated Calgary. The Bombers, seeking revenge, erupted for 24 points in the first quarter and never looked back

 

Week 3 @ British Columbia

Winnipeg 39

BRITISH COLUMBIA 7

Att 28,754

Winnipeg amassed 569 yards offensively, 325 yards through the air, while B.C. could manage only 210 yards, 170 of them on passes. The Bombers led 27-0 at the half.

 

Week 4 v. Toronto

WINNIPEG 21

Toronto 19

Att 25,210

With less than five minutes, FB Mack Herron capped a Winnipeg march with a 15-yard TD run, giving the Bombers the lead for the first time in the closely-fought game

 

Week 5 v. Edmonton

WINNIPEG 49

Edmonton 16

Att 25,210

Winnipeg, led by a 120-yard Mack Herron TD run on the opening play, moved into a tie with Edmonton. Bomber QB Don Jonas completed 12 of 20 pass attempts for 259 yards

 

Week 6 @ Saskatchewan

SASKATCHEWAN 32

Winnipeg 21

Att 21,531

Saskatchewan gave a lesson in ball control to end the Bombers' 4-game win streak. Ron Lancaster led an 85-yard march, using 15 plays and more than 7 minutes in the fourth

 

Week 7 v British Columbia

WINNIPEG 42

British Columbia 7

  Att 25,210

Winnipeg got five TDs from RBs Ed Williams and Mack Herron to trample British Columbia. Johnny Musso got the lone Lions' major in the fourth, on a 14-yard pass from Don Bunce

 

Week 8 v. Calgary

WINNIPEG 22

Calgary 8

Att 25,210

Mack Herron. the leading rusher and scorer in the CFL, added to both his totals. The pint-sized Bomber RB scored the first Winnipeg touchdown, his 13th of the season, and picked up 85 yards

 

Week 9 @ Saskatchewan

Winnipeg 18

SASKATCHEWAN 16

Att 19,635

Saskatchewan QB Ron Lancaster left halfway through the game, and the offense stuttered behind Bubba Wyche the rest of the way as Winnipeg gained sole possession of the top

 

Week 10 v Montreal

WINNIPEG 26

Montreal 22

Att 20,836

Montreal failed on a 3rd-and-seven gamble in the final three minutes. QB Sonny Wade hit Ike Brown, on the Winnipeg 20, but Paul Robson was right there to make the stop

 

Week 11 @ British Columbia

BRITISH COLUMBIA 26

 Winnipeg 24

Att 20,579

Ted Gerela kicked a 19-yard FG with 31 seconds left to give British Columbia the upset. The Lions dominated the game except for the second quarter, when Winnipeg scored three TDs 

 

Week 12 @ Edmonton

EDMONTON 24

Winnipeg 15

Att 20,654

Edmonton used a punishing ground attack and a stiff defence to defeat Winnipeg and moved into a first-place tie with the Bombers in the Western Football Conference 

 

Week 13 v Saskatchewan

WINNIPEG 28

Saskatchewan 25

Att 25,210

Two successful third-down gambles enabled Winnipeg to score on Jim Thorpe's 7-yard reception with 33 seconds remaining to move them into sole possession of first place

 

Week 14 @ Hamilton

HAMILTON 18,

Winnipeg 3

Att 33,946

Chuck Ealey established Hamilton's running game in the first half, while Dave Buchanan became the first Ticat since Gerry McDougal in 1959 to rush for 1,000 yards

 

Week 15 v Edmonton 

WINNIPEG 38

Edmonton 24

Att 25,210

Don Jonas fired four TD passes, two to SE Jim Thorpe. Paul Williams and Bob Larose caught the other TDs and Mack Herron scored his 16th of the season on a one-yard plunge

 

Week 16 @ Ottawa

OTTAWA 11

 Winnipeg 7

Att 22,780

Winnipeg restricted the Riders to three FGs and two singles, but still weren't able to win, as the Ottawa dominated the football, running up 92 plays to 67 for the Bombers.

 

Western Semi-Final

Sun Nov 19

Saskatchewan 27

WINNIPEG 24

Att 19,534

Jack Abendschan kicked a 32-yard FG with no time left to give the Roughriders the upset, as a holding penalty against Winnipeg allowed the try after regulation time

 ball, accidentally kicked it out of bounds. Under CFL rules, Calgary resumed possession