David Patten, who won three Super Bowl rings but wanted to be remembered as a servant of God, died last week in a motorcycle crash near Columbia, S.C. According to the highway patrol, two other vehicles were involved.
Patten, who launched a Christian ministry after retiring from football, was 47. He leaves behind Galiena, his wife of 24 years; four children; and “a host of extended children and loved ones who were drafted in” to his family.
David Patten Was Committed to Christ
Undrafted out of college, Patten played arena football and loaded coffee beans onto trucks while waiting for an NFL opportunity. During that season, the athlete said he realized he needed to fully devote himself to Jesus. The next year, he landed a roster spot with the New York Giants.
From 2001 to 2004, Patten won three championships with the New England Patriots, and the wide receiver caught Tom Brady’s first-ever Super Bowl touchdown pass. Patten also played with Cleveland, Washington, and New Orleans.
In 2014, Patten founded AWOL (A Way of Life) Ministries, a church in South Carolina. “When I was called to ministry, I really committed myself to study God’s Word,” he said. “I didn’t want to preach for the sake of just preaching.” Patten added, “Everybody remembers me as the three-time Super Bowl champion, but I truly believe…they will remember me as the next great preacher.”
That’s indeed how Patriots CEO Robert Kraft describes the former player. Saying he’s “heartbroken” by Patten’s death, Kraft calls him a “devout Christian who followed his passion” and became “a powerful and passionate preacher.”
Days before his death, Patten preached at City of Refuge Church in Fall River, Massachusetts. On Facebook, the church writes that Patten’s “passion and love for the Lord lit a fire in our souls” and his “message will never be forgotten.”
Tributes Honor David Patten’s Faith & Perseverance
While praising David Patten’s athletic accomplishments, his former coaches and teammates say his faith and how he lived it out were even more impressive. Patten was “a man of God, for sure,” says his high school coach Bill Kimrey. “His faith always came first.”
Sam Gordon, Patten’s former manager, says, “If there is one thing I want people to know about David, it’s that as great a player he was, he was a better man.” Quarterback Tom Brady calls Patten “the consummate professional.”