Memories of David Patten: a great New England patriot and a “better man”.
The football fandom world was deeply saddened on Friday by the news that former NFL wide receiver David Patten, who won three Super Bowl titles with the New England Patriots, was killed in a motorcycle accident Thursday, at the outside of Columbia, South Carolina. He was 47 years old.
Patten may have played for five teams in his twelve-year NFL career, but he is best known for his four seasons with the Patriots from 2001 to 2004. Having played his college football at Western Carolina, Patten was also member of the Washington Football Team, New Orleans Saints, Cleveland Browns. He won three Super Bowl rings with the Patriots and retired as a member of the team in 2010.
Upon hearing of Patten’s tragic passing, Patriot Maven’s Kevin Tame, Jr and Mike D’Abate took time to reflect on their memories of David Patten in a Patriots uniform and the legacy he leaves behind:
October 21, 2001
By Kevin Tame:
A game that I will never forget. At the time, I was just a 14-year-old teenager. The 2-3 New England Patriots played a road game in Indianapolis against the Peyton Manning Colts. At the time, Manning was in Season 4 of his career and was already considered one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
That 2001 season was the season Drew Bledsoe fell after taking a heavy blow to New York Jets linebacker Mo Lewis. This blow was so severe that Bledsoe suffered internal bleeding. Because of this success, it was also at this point that Tom Brady took over the reins. I had no idea how great I was about to witness that day, this season, or for the next 18 years.
David Patten was the story of this match. In fact, he made history.
First Patten put the Patriots on the board, giving them a 7-0 lead after taking the ball on an end play and pushing their way for a 29-yard touchdown.
In the second quarter, with the Patriots leading 7-3, Patten was once again the hero. He landed a pass from Brady to the 48-yard line, then rushed onto the field with his great speed for a 91-yard touchdown. After Adam Vinatieri’s extra point, it was a 14-3 game in favor of New England.
Just when you thought Patten couldn’t top his great performance, he worked his magic again, but this time in the air. Patten pitched for a 60-yard touchdown to WR Troy Brown. David Patten had scored a touchdown in three different ways. He became the first player since Walter Payton in 1979 to run, catch and pass for touchdowns in the same game, helping the Patriots beat the Colts 38-17.
An elimination race to remember:
By Mike D’Abate
As New England’s unlikely race to what would be the birth of a dynasty continued, formidable challenges awaited the team and their young playoff quarterback. The Oakland Raiders were first for the Pats. Even though it was a home game, it looked like the Pats faced an uphill battle. The Raiders had the stars, the experience, and the organizational pedigree to take this one, even though the snow was falling regularly in Foxboro.
Fortunately, the Patriots had Tom Brady, Bill Belichick and of course Adam Vinatieri. However, we must not forget that the Pats also had David Patten, who was brilliant in this game. Patten finished the game with 107 yards on eight receptions, including a 25-yard reception in the third quarter, amid the pouring snow. With the Pats’ lone touchdown on Brady’s six-yard scrum in the fourth quarter, Patten had already received three receptions on that record; one of which went for 14 yards. Following the infamous “fallback rule” game, Brady turned to Patten and found him 13 yards on the next snap. Tried and true, David Patten has always been there.
That reliability continued into the following week, as the Pats faced the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Championship game. If the Pats were faced with an uphill battle against the Raiders, the Steelers were considered “insurmountable.” In fact, the Pittsburgh players were already making hotel reservations in New Orleans; almost some of their inevitable Super Bowl trip. Those travel preparations actually seemed to be going on, when Brady left with a leg injury towards the end of the second quarter. Enter former Pats starting quarterback Drew Bledsoe. Bledsoe immediately focused on Patten, finding him twice for 15 yards and 10 yards respectively. Practice would end with an 11-yard touchdown pass from Bledsoe to Patten with 1:05 left in the half. The Pats would win the game 24-17 and strike their ticket to Super Bowl XXXVI. Patten finished with a 39-yard reception and a touchdown. However, his connection with Bledsoe is arguably the most notable moment in this contest.
Super Bowl memories and an unforgettable legacy
In Super Bowl XXXVI against the Rams, Patten scored the team’s only offensive touchdown. What’s even more impressive to me is that it was literally Brady’s first touchdown in the playoffs. Here we are, in 2021, and Brady threw 83 career playoff touchdowns. Patten will forever be in the record books as the guy who caught Brady first. A great accomplishment, in addition to winning three Super Bowls. Rest in peace, champion.
Super Bowl XXXVI is still a surreal memory, even nearly twenty years after its conclusion. Ty Law’s six-pick, Tom Brady’s knockout and Adam Vinatieri’s 48-yard field goal have started a dynasty. However, the moment I really believed the Patriots could win this game… against the mighty ‘Greatest Show on Turf’ was David Patten’s back touchdown on an eight-yard pass from Brady. It was the Pats’ only offensive touchdown of the day. Watching David play so well, amid so many great moments throughout the season, made you believe that this result might be a little different than New England’s Super Bowl past.
In his post-player career, David continued to inspire so many people with his spiritual insight and community service. As such, he leaves an inspiring legacy. Sam Gordon, whose management company represented Patten, revealed to ESPN’s Mike Reiss that he spoke with Patten’s wife. Naturally, his family and friends are “all very sorry” by his death. Gordon was also sure to convey that the mark Patten is leaving on humanity will extend far beyond the football field.
“If there’s one thing I want people to know about David, it’s that as good a player as he was, he was a better man,” Gordon said of his friend.
While David Patten will be sadly missed by the world, the light, which he provided throughout his life, will forever burn brightly.