Tag Archives: New England Patriots

Mack Herron’s Death and Reverse Mortgage Anxiety

The late Mack Herron and his sister Barbara at their family home in January 2015.  The prospect of being homeless due to problems with a reverse mortgage his mother had purchased troubled Herron, who died in December at age 67.

The late Mack Herron and his sister Barbara at their family home in January 2015. (Photo by Jeff Kelly Lowenstein)

Chicago native Mack “Mini-Mack” Herron used money he made playing professional football to help buy a house for his mother on the city’s West Side in the 1970s.

The prospect of losing the home to an alleged reverse mortgage scam may have contributed to his death at age 67 last month, according to relatives.

“He was packing his bags,” said Barbara Herron, younger sister of the former Farragut High School great. “I didn’t know he was packing his things until after he had passed.”

Herron first burst into prominence at Farragut, where he starred in baseball, basketball and track in addition to his gridiron heroics.

He continued to stand out at Hutchinson Junior College and Kansas State University, finishing fourth in the nation in touchdowns in 1969. He played professionally for the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in the CFL and the New England Patriots, where in 1974 he set a single-season record for all-purpose yardage.

He used some of the money from his football career to help purchase the home in the 1800 block of S. Hamlin Ave.

Herron’s years on the gridiron took a toll on his body, as did his drug use that led to repeated arrests. Barbara Herron said that at the time of his death her brother was diabetic and dealing with memory loss caused by a football-related head injury.

But he was also impacted by the strain of potentially being homeless, she said.

In 2010, Herron’s mother Effie Herron had taken out a reverse mortgage on her home, which had been paid off for years.

Reverse mortgages are HUD-backed loans that allow homeowners 62 years or older to cash in on some of their home’s equity. The mortgage is not due until the homeowner dies or the house is no longer used as a primary residence, but mortgage holders must pay insurance premiums.

Chicago businessman Mark Diamond allegedly convinced the elder Herron to take out the loan.

She was suffering from dementia when she signed the document, according to her daughter.

Diamond has been the subject of dozens of mortgage-related lawsuits stretching back decades. Many of the cases alleged that he targeted elderly black homeowners, many of whom were women, on the city’s South and West Sides.

A number of the complaints stated that Diamond carried out a home repair scam in which he would convince his victims to take out a reverse mortgage to carry out needed repairs without explaining the terms of or responsibilities associated with the loan. He would then maneuver to get all of the money from the reverse mortgage and do little, no or shoddy repairs.

Other alleged Diamond victims include Lillie Hopson, a blind woman in her 60s, and Clyde Ross, a key figure in the Contract Buyers League on the city’s West Side in the 60s who was caring for his son Tim, a wounded U.S. Marine.

Diamond could not be reached for comment, but through his lawyer Dennis Both had previously denied wrongdoing.

The elder Herron did not tell her children she had taken out the loan, so they were shocked to learn shortly before her death that the balance would come due, according to Barbara Herron.

Reverse Mortgage Solutions, Inc. was the mortgage provider.

Since 2012 the company has become the nation’s third largest reverse mortgage provider after Bank of America and Wells Fargo largely left the market in 2011. The number of these loans Reverse Mortgage has granted has exploded from about 300 in 2012 to more than 3,000 in 2014, according to an analysis of HUD data.

After a series of letters the company initiated foreclosure proceedings against the Herron family.

The possibility of losing the home that had been in the family for decades troubled the former football legend deeply, according to his sister.

High levels of stress have been associated with negative health impacts in a number of academic studies.

Reverse Mortgage Solutions declined to comment.

Diamond had his own troubles last year.

The FBI raided his office in March.

In June Judge David Atkins granted an injunction requested by the Office of Attorney General Lisa Madigan against Diamond while a 2009 case her office filed on behalf of dozens of homeowners moves through the court system.

Still, some question why he has yet to face criminal charges.

In August Gov. Bruce Rauner signed into law a bill filed by Sen. Jacqueline Collins (D-16) that required counseling by government agencies and a three-day cooling off period between the lender committing to the loan and the homeowner signing it.

The law, which took effect on Jan. 1, also stated that in most cases the people who broker the mortgage will not be able to directly receive the money.

Herron said those measures could help others avoid the same predicament she and her older brother endured.

In December went to court and got a continuance until February.

Although expressing optimism that the case could be resolved, she noted that the change came too late for her brother, who died the week before the court date.

And her anxiety about the home that has been her family’s emotional center and financial legacy remains.

“All our mother wanted was for us to have a house that she gave to us,” Herron said. “Mack was able to help her to have a home. To lose it is saddening.”


Patriots’ loss, Belichick’s education

A repeat celebration seemed a million miles away after last night's questionable decision by Bill Belichick.

This one is going to be hard to get over.

With his team nursing a six-point lead over the Indianapolis Colts and the two-minute mark approaching, Patriots coach Bill Belichick elected to go for it on a fourth and two situation deep in his own territory.

When Kevin Faulk was deemed to have bobbled the pass from Tom Brady and landed short of the first down, the Colts took over on downs and waltzed into the end zone four plays later on a Peyton Manning bullet to Reggie Wayne.

Former Patriots kicker Adam Vinatieri clinched the victory with an extra point that made the score 35-34.

Responses to Belichick’s decision have ranged from outright denunciation, from longtime Boston Globe sportswriter Dan Shaughnessy, who compared the choice to Grady Little’s ill-fated leaving a tiring Pedro Martinez on the mound against the Yankees in Game 7 of the 2003 ALCS, to New York Times blogger Brian Burke, who argued that Belichick’s action made statistical sense

Globe blogger Mike Reiss had some interesting reaction from the defensive perspective.  Dwight Freeney and others said they felt disrespected by the Patriots’ going for it, while former Pats stalwart Tedy Bruschi talked about Belichick’s lack of faith in the defense.

To me, this is one of two critical points.  As much statistical sense as the choice may have made, it’s hard to see it as justified given how far the Colts would have had to travel and the relative success the Pats’ D had had against him up to that point. 

That lack of confidence will be hard to forget, especially given Belichick’s much-touted label as a defensive genius. 

Similarly, it’s easy to forget in the debate about whether Faulk indeed did have the ball in his possession that Belichick elected to pass, rather than trusting his running game to get two short yards.

This is a double vote of no-confidence.

This is now the third time in the past four years that a Mannning-led team-twice by Peyton, and once by younger brother Eli in a Super Bowl victory-has rallied from behind to snatch a last-second victory from the Patriots.

You have to wonder whether the memories of the previous defeats were in Belichick’s head when he made what may ultimately prove to be a franchise-altering choice.

Some commentators have also noted that uncharacteristically poor clock management left the Patriots without timeouts after Faulk was stopped short of first down yardage.

Whatever one thinks of last night’s choice, it’s hard to deny Belichick’s impact on the game during the past decade and during the more than 35 years he has been involved at the professional level. 

The late David Halberstam wrote an admiring biography about Belichick called The Education of a Coach.

The book opens much where the Patriots found themselves last night-on the short end of a tightly fought critical game that came down to a few vital plays.  In Education of a Coach, the work begins with the Patriots holding off a last-ditch rally by the Philadelphia Eagles to win their third Super Bowl in four years, each by the margin of a field goal.

Halberstam describes Belichick’s studying film under the tutelage of his father Steve, who coached at Navy for years, from a very young age. 

One sees all the character traits-the relentless focus, the unyielding work ethic, the willingness to experiment-that have served the Patriots so well since Belichick assumed the helm in 2000.  Some of the darker sides, like the alleged cheating and extramarital affair, do not appear in the book.

His decision to blanket Dallas Clark last night was reminiscent of his choice to make sure that Marshall Faulk, Kevin’s older brother, did not beat the Patriots in the 2001 Super Bowl against the heavily favored Rams.  Halberstam describes this victory in some detail.

That decisions paid dividends, launching a still relatively unknown quarterback drafted in the sixth round named Tom Brady toward superstardom and the Patriots toward one of the sport’s more impressive dynasties.

Last night’s call to go for it may not be unrivaled, as Shaughnessy maintains, but it is difficult to see the team, as resilient as it is, simply rebounding and moving on as Belichick insisted they would do.

Tom Brady’s return, books about him.

Tom Brady rallied the Patriots to a last-minute victory over the Buffalo Bills last night.

Tom Brady rallied the Patriots to a last-minute victory over the Buffalo Bills last night.

Tom Terrific is back.

Sort of.

Playing in his first regular season game in a year, Tom Brady threw two touchdowns to Benjamin Watson in the game’s waning minutes to rally the Patriots to a dramatic 25-24 victory over the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.

Stymied for much of the game, Brady and the Pats benefited from a major stroke of luck as Bills’ kickoff returner Leodis McKelvin fumbled the ball after Brady’s first touchdown pass had cut the Bills’ lead to five points.  Kicker Stephen Gostkowski recovered.

Brady needed just three plays to find Watson for the winning score. 

The two-time Super Bowl MVP, recent husband and impending father looked rusty for much of the contest.  

Whether Brady can regain his MVP form of 2007, a year in which he threw a record 50 touchdowns in leading the Patriots to an undefeated regular season, is a question that will be answered in the upcoming weeks.

While waiting and watching, fans hungry to learn more about the unflappable Michigan grad who was drafted in the sixth round of the 2000 draft have at least two books to read.

David Halberstam’s The Education of a Coach is ostensibly about Bill Belichik, but has a lot of information about Brady.  In particular, it talks about a point during a game against the San Diego Chargers during the 2001 season in which Brady evaded the pass rush and made an in-play adjustment that Drew Bledsoe, the starter for whom he was filling in, never would have made.

That quality of vision was what convinced Belichik to make the unusual and bold decision to keep Brady as the starter even after Bledsoe had recovered.

Moving the Chains is Charlie Pierce’s take on Brady’s childhood, college career and early years in the NFL.  The author of Hard to Forget: An Alzheimer’s Story has done more compelling writing, and the book does have information in which Brady junkies might be interested. 

Will Brady regain his vintage form?  If not, will Belichik cut him loose, as he did with Bernie Kosar and Bledsoe earlier in his career?  How will the Patriots do this year?

Weekend recommendations: Jabari Asim takes on The N Word while Rosabeth Moss Kanter writes about confidence.


Dave Chappelle's turn as blind KKK member Clayton Bigsby is just one of the many topics addressed in Jabari Asim's book.  For her part, Rosabeth Moss Kanter writes about organizational confidence in Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End.

Dave Chappelle's turn as blind KKK member Clayton Bigsby is just one of the many topics addressed in Jabari Asim's book. For her part, Rosabeth Moss Kanter writes about organizational confidence in Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End.



We’re deep into Saturday afternoon, Dunreith and Aidan are shopping, I have just finished cleaning the first floor,  and it’s time to get my blog on!

Today I’m writing a quick post about a couple of books I read this week and enjoyed.

The N Word: Who Can Say It, Who Shouldn’t and Why by Jabari Asim looks at the history and cultural significance of those six letters through the arrival of the first Africans in the early 17th century to contemporary comedians, writers and filmmakers.  The editor of The Crisis, the NAACP publication that W.E.B. DuBois edited for decades, Asim is also a scholar at the University of Illinois’ Urbana-Champaign campus.  He divides the work into historical periods that take the reader through American history, with breaks at key moments like the Civil War or the period after the Earl Warren-led U.S. Supreme Court delivered the unanimous Brown v. Board of Education decision in 1954 that overturned legal segregation.  

Readers of American history will recognize luminaries like the late George Frederickson and Leon Litwack.  Asim also has an engaging take of Mark Twain’s classic, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, and seems most comfortable and fluid when he is writing about the current moment and performers like the provocative Dave Chappelle.  

As the sub-title suggests, Asim also addresses the issue of the word ‘nigga,’ which some people use and claim is not offensive for a number of reasons. He ends the book suggesting that either five- or six-letter version of the word be retired from common use.  The N Word is a wide ranging read on an often controversial subject.

Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter has written a very different, but also engaging book that has potential application for anyone involved in a sports team, organization or country.  Confidence: How Winning Streaks and Losing Streaks Begin and End is chock full of details and examples from each of those arenas.   At different points in the book, readers get treated to discussion of the New England Patriots, the BBC, and post-apartheid South Africa under Nelson Mandela.  Her main point is that confidence does impact performance and arises from a series of practices that she documents.  By looking at leaders like University of Connecticut women’s basketball coach Geno Auriemma, among others, Moss Kanter show the combination of high expectations clearly articulated, a sense of cohesion, and staying calm under pressure that lead to the building and sustaining of confidence.  She also provides examples of how losing streaks happen and extend, and explores how cultures of losing can be turned around and become confident ones. 

A lot of this material may seem like common sense, and Moss Kanter deserves credit for how she pulls the strands together in an entertaining and informative read.