Former New England Patriots wide receiver David Patten died Thursday at the age of 47. A motorcycle accident was the cause of his death, per The State, a newspaper in Patten's native South Carolina.
Many of Patten's former Patriots teammates shared their condolences and fond memories of the three-time Super Bowl champion on various social media platforms Friday.
Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, who brought Patten to New England as a free agent in 2001, released a heartfelt statement Friday afternoon.
"It breaks my heart to hear of David's tragic passing at such a young age," said 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. I especially appreciate David for his professional journey. 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."
Patriots owner Robert Kraft also released a statement, via the team:
"I am heartbroken by the news of David's passing," Kraft said. "He was a devout Christian who followed his passion following his football career and founded his own ministry. 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. 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. It was our only offensive touchdown in the Super Bowl and secured our first championship in franchise history. Our sincerest sympathies are with his wife, Galiena, his family and all who are mourning David's tragic and untimely death."
Patten played four seasons with the Patriots from 2001 through 2004 and helped the team win three Super Bowl titles (2001, 2003 and 2004) over that span.
He was especially clutch during the 2001 playoff run, catching a touchdown pass in both Super Bowl XXXVI against the St. Louis Rams and the AFC Championship Game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, while also tallying eight receptions for 108 yards in the historic AFC Divisional Round win over the Oakland Raiders in the snow.