BOSTON – Mosi Tatupu, 54, one of the most popular players in New England Patriots history known for his inspired special teams play, died Tuesday in Attleboro, Mass.

The hospital could not disclose a cause of death.

The Plainville Fire Department responded to Tatupu’s home and took him to the hospital.

”I know that I share a heavy heart today with Patriots fans everywhere who have learned of Mosi Tatupu’s passing,” said the team owner, Robert Kraft, in a statement.

”He was a dominant special teams player and a punishing rusher who loved the Patriots as much as the fans did,” he said.

Tatupu was chosen by the Patriots in the eighth round of the 1978 draft out of Southern California and played 13 of his 14 NFL seasons with the team, wrapping up his career with the Los Angeles Rams in 1991.

The bruising fullback rushed for 2,415 yards and 18 touchdowns, including a career-best 578 yards in 1983. He thrived on snowy and icy fields, running for 128 yards on a snow-covered field in a victory against New Orleans that season.

After his retirement as a player, Tatupu was the head coach at King Philip Regional High in Wrentham, Mass., where he coached his son, Lofa, now a linebacker with Seattle.

He also was an assistant at Curry College in Milton, Mass., from 2002-2007, coaching running backs and special teams.

 

ROBERT KRAFT, the owner, insists New England will pay whatever it takes to win, regardless of what Randy Moss said.

”Do you know how much (Moss) has made over the last two years? Over $20 million, so I don’t think we don’t pay for quality and I think you can see that,” Kraft said.

Moss told reporters in Florida that he didn’t expect to return to the Patriots following the 2010 season because he would cost the team too much.

New England is trying to work out a long-term deal with defensive tackle Vince Wilfork. The team also may try to extend quarterback Tom Brady’s contract before it ends next season.

 

NEW ENGLAND re-signed veteran wide receiver David Patten, a pivotal offensive contributor when the team won three Super Bowls.

Patten, 35, played in 54 regular-season and six playoff games with the Patriots from 2001-2004. He caught a touchdown pass from Tom Brady in the 20-17 upset of the St. Louis Rams in the 2002 Super Bowl.

After leaving New England, he played for Washington and New Orleans. He was out of football in 2009 after being released by Cleveland in training camp.