The Patriots received some startling news on Wednesday morning when they learned that Mosi Tatupu, the former running back who played the third-most games of any Patriot in history, passed away at the age of 54.
"I know that I share a heavy heart today with Patriots fans everywhere who have learned of Mosi Tatupu’s passing," Patriots owner Robert Kraft said in a statement. "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."
Some of Tatupu's former teammates also shared some of their memories.
"You probably couldn’t ask for a better teammate than Mosi," said Hall of Famer Andre Tippett. "It was the way he approached the game. He worked hard. He practiced hard. He had a way about him. He always had an upbeat attitude, he was happy all the time and just pleasant to be around. He had a special connection with the fans and his teammates. Everybody loved him."
Former quarterback Steve Grogan, just like many fans, said he remembers Tatupu's trademark smile.
"He was one of those guys that made life fun whether it was in the locker room or on the practice fields. He had a smile that radiated," Grogan said. "The fans appreciated him because he was a lunch pail kind of guy and did whatever was asked of him — whether it was on special teams, on the goal line, in blocking or catching situations. I think Patriots fans really appreciated that."
Tatupu was honored by the Patriots last year by being named to the 50th Anniversary Team. Kraft said he was glad that Tatupu had the chance to be honored one last time by the fans.
A Pro Bowler in 1986, Tatupu coached after his retirement for King Philip Regional High School in Wrentham, Mass. — where he helped teach the game to his son, Lofa, who is now a linebacker on the Seattle Seahawks — and at Curry College in Milton, Mass. There was also an award named after him, which was given to college football's special teams player of the year. Wes Welker won the award in 2003.
Yet despite all the accomplishments, Tatupu will be remembered for truly being one of a kind. As Stanley Morgan put it, "There was only one Mosi."