David Patten, a former wide receiver and assistant football coach at Western Carolina, died Sept. 2 at age 47 as the result of a motorcycle accident in Columbia, S.C.
Patten spent 12 seasons in the NFL and won three Super Bowl championships with the New England Patriots. In Super Bowl XXXVI in February 2002, Patten caught the first Super Bowl touchdown pass thrown by legendary quarterback Tom Brady.
Patten was an All-Southern Conference performer for the Catamounts in 1995 when he caught 59 passes for 881 yards.
His NFL career also included stops with the New York Giants, Washington, New Orleans and Cleveland, in addition to New England. He finished with 324 receptions for 4,715 yards and 24 TDs.
His time on the WCU coaching staff began in 2013 after his NFL career ended.
He later became a minister and motivational speaker.
His son, Daquan Patten, currently plays for the Cats.
“I am heartbroken by the news of David’s passing,” Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said in an article on the team’s website. “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.”
“It breaks my heart to hear of David’s tragic passing at such a young age,” Patriots Coach Bill Belichick said in the same article. “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.”