David Patten, the wide receiver who went from undrafted out of Western Carolina to a three-time Super Bowl champion with the New England Patriots, died Saturday night following in a motorcycle accident in Columbia, South Carolina, according to Richland County officials. He was 47. Patten was pronounced dead at the scene of the three-vehicle accident in his hometown.
Patten played 147 games for five teams in 12 NFL seasons, totaling 324 receptions and 4,715 yards with 24 touchdowns. He had his greatest success with the Patriots as a target for Tom Brady, posting 40-plus receptions and more than 700 yards receiving in three of his four years in New England. The Patriots won three titles during his time with the team and he played in two Super Bowls — he was injured in the seventh game of the 2003 season and missed the remainder of the season.
He had 13 receptions for 154 yards and two touchdowns in New England’s three playoff games on its run to the 2001 season title, including an 8-yard touchdown reception in Super Bowl 36 against the Rams in the Patriots’ 20-17 win — the first of six titles won by the franchise over the last two decades. He also had a touchdown reception from Drew Bledsoe in that year’s AFC Championship Game against the Steelers after Brady was injured.
Patten starred at Western Carolina and made the All-Southern Conference team as a senior when he had 59 catches for 881 yards. He went undrafted in 1996 and played for Albany of the Arena Football League that season. He caught on with the Giants the next year and spent three seasons in New York, totaling 33 receptions, 460 yards and three touchdowns in 44 games.
His breakout season came in 2000 when he had 38 catches for 546 yards and touchdown with the Browns. He then signed with the Patriots as a free agent.
Following his successful four-year stint in New England, Patten had two-year stops in Washington and New Orleans. He signed again in both Cleveland (in 2009) and New England (2010) but didn’t play another game with either team.
He retired in July 2010 and later returned to Western Carolina to complete his degree and work as an assistant on the football team at his alma mater. He had also become a Christian minister and motivational speaker in his post-playing career. His son, Daquan, is a senior receiver on the Catamounts.