The Patriots confirmed that former RB and Pro Bowl special-teams standout Mosi Tatupu died Tuesday at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro, Mass. He was 54.
"I know that I share a heavy heart today with Patriots fans everywhere who have learned of Mosi Tatupu's passing," said Patriots chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "I was shocked by the news this morning. My sons and I loved to watch Mosi. He was one of our favorite players for more than a decade. I don't think you could watch a Patriots game in the '80s without becoming a fan of his. He was a dominant special teams player and a punishing rusher who loved the Patriots as much as the fans did. He gave everything that he had on every play and immediately became a fan favorite. There was an entire section of the stadium known as 'Mosi's Mooses,' but I think everyone in the stadium considered themselves one of his supporters. I am glad that our fans had an opportunity to honor him at last year's season opener when we welcomed back the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team. He was an iconic player and will be remembered for all of his contributions as a Patriot, both on and off the field. Our sincere condolences go out to all of Mosi's family, former teammates and many friends who are mourning his loss today."
Tatupu was born on April 26, 1955, in Pago Pago, American Samoa. He later moved to Hawaii where he starred on the gridiron at Punahou High School, before going on to play football at USC. Tatupu was selected by the Patriots in the eighth round of the 1978 NFL draft. His career with the team spanned from 1978-90, and his 194 career games with New England rank third in franchise history. During his Patriots career, Tatupu was a fan favorite and, as Kraft mentioned in his statement, had his own dedicated cheering section known as "Mosi's Mooses."
After concluding his NFL career with a five-game stint with the Los Angeles Rams in 1991, Tatupu retired. In his post-football career, he would go on to coach his son, Lofa — now a Pro Bowl linebacker with the Seahawks — at King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, Mass. Tatupu served as the running backs coach at Curry College in Milton, Mass., from 2002 through 2007.
Tatupu was selected to the Pro Bowl in 1986 as a special-teamer and was also named to the Pro Football Weekly and United Press International All-AFC and Associated Press All-Pro teams that year. In his career, Tatupu registered 612 carries for 2,415 yards and 18 touchdowns.
He was honored as a special-teamer on the Patriots 50th Anniversary Team last September and participated in a ceremony at Gillette Stadium during halftime of the Patriots' 2009 season opener.
From 1997 through 2006, the Mosi Tatupu Award was given annually to the College Football Special Teams Player of the Year, an award that Wes Welker earned in 2003.
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