Mosi Tatupu |

February 24, 2010 by Post Team 

Mosi Tatupu | Patriots running back Mosi Tatupu has died at the age of 54, according to several news reports.

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin said Tatupu, a native of America Samoa who played 13 seasons for the Patriots, died Tuesday, but a cause of death was not known.

Barry Markowitz, a family friend, told the Star-Bulletin, “He had some health issues.”

The Patriots drafted Tatupu in the eighth round of the 1978 draft out of the University of Southern California. He was born in Pago Pago, American Samoa, and was a schoolboy football star at Punahou High in Honolulu. He held the Hawaii state record for career yards for 17 years, according to the newspaper’s web site.

Tatupu was the head coach at King Philip High in Wrentham, where he coached his son, Lofa, who is now a linebacker for the Seattle Seahawks. He also coached running backs at Curry College in Milton.

Mosi Tatupu had 612 carries and 2,415 yards in his 14-year NFL career. After 13 seasons with the Patriots from 1978 to 1990, Tatupu played five games for the Los Angeles Rams in 1991 before ending his playing career.

Tatupu was primarily a blocking back and short-yardage specialist on offense, but was highly regarded for his special teams skills. He made the 1986 Pro Bowl as a special teamer and was named the NFL Alumni’s Special Teams Player of the Year.

Tatupu played in 202 NFL games, including Super Bowl XX, when the Patriots lost to the Bears 46-10. He had 18 career touchdowns.

He had his own cheering section at Patriots home games, “Mosi’s Mooses.”

“They are great fans, but just to have your own section is an honor,” Tatupu said in a 2004 interview with the Globe. “It inspired me to play harder because they were cheering for me and backing me up.”

At Southern California from 1974 to 1977, Tatupu was a member of the Trojans’ 1974 national championship team. He ran for 1,277 yards on 223 carries in his Trojan career and was USC’s Offensive Player of the Year and Most Inspirational Player in 1977.

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