AFC East: Mosi Tatupu
Fullback and special-teams ace Mosi Tatupu died Tuesday in Attleboro, Mass. He was 54.
Tatupu, a gritty eighth-round draft choice in 1978, played 13 seasons with the Patriots. He was the lead blocker for Craig James when the Patriots went to their first Super Bowl and was selected to the Pro Bowl for 1986.
He briefly played for the St. Louis Rams before retiring in 1991. He coached his son, Seattle Seahawks linebacker Lofa Tatupu, at King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass.
The Patriots have released statements from the organization and some of Tatupu's teammates.
Patriots owner Robert Kraft
"I know that I share a heavy heart today with Patriots fans everywhere who have learned of Mosi Tatupu’s passing. 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. ... He was an iconic player and will be remembered for all of his contributions as a Patriot, both on and off the field."Former Patriots receiver 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."Hall of Fame linebacker 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."Former Patriots quarterback 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 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."Former Patriots center Pete 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."