Three-time Super Bowl champion and devoted Christian, David Patten, passed away Thursday after he was involved in a motorcycle crash outside Columbia, South Carolina.
The 47-year-old played for five NFL teams over his 12-year career but was best known for his four seasons with the New England Patriots from 2001-2004.
In this Sept. 9, 2004, file photo, New England Patriots wide receiver David Patten scores on a 25-yard reception from Patriots quarterback Tom Brady during the third quarter of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts in Foxborough, Mass. (AP Photo/Stephan Savoia, File)
Patten, who worked as a coffee bean loader before his football career, was determined to make it in the NFL and never gave up on his dream.
"I can never remember not doubting whether I would make it to the NFL," Patten said. "I knew with all of my heart and all of my mind and always believed that I would make it."
While anxiously waiting for his opportunity to play professionally, he joined the Albany Firebirds in 1996 to play arena football. During that time, he focused on strengthening his faith.
"I was always conscientious of the fact that I know that I realized my dream and I knew it was the direct will of God," Patten explained. "I was doing everything I was supposed to do but because I wasn't committed to Him, I couldn't get a tryout, no one even looked at me, and then when I committed my life to Christ, I'm working eight months loading coffee beans into an 18-wheeler truck and I don't even have time to work out and I get picked up by the New York Giants."
He was picked up by the Giants in 1997 and played for two seasons, then played for the Cleveland Browns in 2000. He spent several seasons with the Patriots before playing one year with the Washington Redskins and the New Orleans Saints.
In 2007, Patten took on a leadership role in ministry and started Awol Ministries in 2014.
"When I was called to ministry, I really committed myself to study God's word," Patten said. "I didn't want to just preach for the sake of just preaching and studying the script and coming up with great sermons and as God began to reveal His truth to me and I started just think about the various stories, they are all inspiring."
Despite his success in the NFL, Patten once said that he hoped his fans would remember him as an obedient servant of God rather than a star player.
"Everybody remembers me as the three-time Super Bowl Champion," Patten said. "But, I truly believe that my desire and how God elevates me that when people remember me, they will remember me as the next great preacher."
Mark Lepselter, who was Patten's agent throughout his playing career, said he was relentless in his efforts.
"I remember him telling me, 'If it's a level playing field, I'll win the job.' That's what he did," Lepselter said. "He was the ultimate never-say-never individual - truly remarkable perseverance."
Friends and fans commented on social media about his sudden passing.
heartbroken great man of God… lost for words - David Patten… pic.twitter.com/DOMWJqjoBv
— Richard Seymour (@BigSey93) September 3, 2021
— Damien Woody (@damienwoody) September 3, 2021
Heartbroken to hear about the passing of David Patten. Beyond being a core player on our @Patriots championships, he represented all that was good.
Hard to articulate the impact he had on our locker room and all of us around him. He was a TRUE champion... Godspeed pic.twitter.com/HuD1BTXVvT
— Scott Pioli (@scottpioli51) September 3, 2021