COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — Former NFL receiver and three-time Super Bowl champion David Patten Jr., who caught Tom Brady’s first postseason touchdown pass to help the Patriots win their first title, has died in a motorcycle accident.
Richland County coroner Naida Rutherford said in a statement Patten was killed in a crash Thursday night outside of Columbia, South Carolina. The South Carolina Highway Patrol said the accident involved two other vehicles.
Patten played 12 seasons in the NFL after signing as an undrafted free agent with the New York Giants in 1997. He spent three seasons in New York and also played for Cleveland, Washington and New Orleans.
But his biggest highlights came as a member of the Patriots, making two iconic catches to help New England capture its first Super Bowl win during the 2001 season. He hauled in an 11-yard TD from Drew Bledsoe during the Patriots’ 24-17 win over Pittsburgh in the AFC championship game. He followed that with a leaping 8-yard TD reception from Brady in the second quarter of the Super Bowl. It was New England’s lone offensive TD in the 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams.
Patten played with the Patriots from 2001 until 2004 and was a member of their 2003 and 2004 championship teams. He appeared in 147 career NFL games, catching 324 passes for 4,715 yards and 24 touchdowns.
In a statement coach Bill Belichick called Patten “an essential person and player in Patriots history.”
“It breaks my heart to hear of David’s tragic passing at such a young age,” Belichick said. “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.”
Team owner Robert Kraft said he was “heartbroken."
“He was a devout Christian who followed his passion following his football career and founded his own ministry," Kraft said. "David transitioned from an undersized and understated wide receiver to a powerful and passionate preacher. In New England, he will always be remembered as a three-time Super Bowl champion.”
Condolences also poured in across social media from several of Patten's former teammates.
“Rest in Power to my former teammate, one of the best men I’ve ever known,” former Patriots offensive lineman Damien Woody wrote.
Richard Seymour, who played alongside Patten for each of their three Super Bowl wins in New England, wrote on Twitter that he was “heartbroken.”
“Great man of God...lost for words,” Seymour said.
More AP NFL coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL