FOXBORO, Mass. (WPRI) — David Patten, a three-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, died Thursday at the age of 47, the team announced Friday.
“It breaks my heart to hear of David’s tragic passing at such a young age,” head coach Bill Belichick said in a statement. “I am grateful to have coached David. He is an essential person and player in Patriots history, without whom we would not have been Super Bowl champions.”
“I especially appreciate David for his professional journey,” he continued. “As much as anyone, David epitomized the unheralded, self-made player who defied enormous odds to not only earn a job in the NFL but to become a key player on multiple championship teams. I can speak for anyone who had the pleasure to be around David that his work ethic, positive energy and character were elite. My deepest condolences are with his family and loved ones.”
The news of Patten’s passing started making the rounds after former teammate Richard Seymour tweeted that he was heartbroken and lost for words.
Patten’s death was first reported by The State, a newspaper where he lived in South Carolina.
Patten joined the Patriots in 2001 and helped the team earn its first Super Bowl victory in franchise history. His leaping catch in the end zone was the first postseason touchdown pass of Tom Brady’s career.
“His touchdown reception in the AFC Championship game at Pittsburgh propelled the Patriots to Super Bowl XXXVI and I’ll never forget his remarkable catch in the back of the end zone in that game,” Patriots owner Robert Kraft said of Patten. “Our sincerest sympathies are with his wife, Galiena, his family and all who are mourning David’s tragic and untimely death.”
David Patten photo gallery (story continues below)
Patten was sidelined with an injury when the Patriots won their second Super Bowl in the 2003 season, but contributed to the team’s third Super Bowl the following year.
He left New England after the 2004 season, but returned for a short stint in 2010 before announcing his retirement.
After football, Patten went back to Western Carolina to finish his degree and spent time on WCU’s football staff, according to The State.