FOXBOROUGH, Mass. - The New England Patriots are deeply saddened to confirm that former running back and Pro Bowl special teams standout Mosi Tatupu died Tuesday, Feb. 23, 2010 at Sturdy Memorial Hospital in Attleboro. 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."
Mosiula Faasuka "Mosi" 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 the University of Southern California. Tatupu was selected by the New England Patriots in the eighth round of the 1978 NFL Draft. His career with the Patriots spanned from 1978-90 and his 194 career games with the team rank third in franchise history. During his Patriots career, Tatupu was a fan favorite and 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 Seattle 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 UPI All-AFC and AP 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.
Reaction from former Patrots teammates
Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Fame LB Andre Tippett:
"You probably couldn't ask for a better teammate than Mosi. 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."
Patriots Hall of Fame QB Steve Grogan:
"As a teammate, he was one of the best. 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. The fans appreciated him because he was a lunchpail 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."
Patriots Hall of Fame WR Stanley Morgan:
"There was only one Mosi. I first met Mosi the year after I came to the Patriots, when he got here in 1978 and it was love at first sight I guess you could say. He got along great with everybody. He had that air about him that you were comfortable around him all the time and nobody was a stranger around him. People were attracted to that."
Patriots 1980s All-Decade C Peter Brock:
"The thing about Mosi was that he did everything. He wasn't the glamour guy out in front, getting all the carries, he just played football and he played hard. A lot of people remember the 'Snow Plow Game' and, of course, John Smith's kick won it, but it was Mosi, who ran for more than 100 yards that day, that really won that game. It's really a shock and it's so much tougher because we played before the era of free agency, so you really got to know everybody. We were a community. We raised our children together. Because of that it's just like losing a family member."