Feb. 11, 2013
Cullowhee, N.C. - Former Western Carolina wide receiver David Patten, a 12-year veteran of the National Football League, has joined the Catamount football coaching staff under second-year head coach, Mark Speir. The return of the former standout wide receiver that played 13 seasons professionally and was on three Super Bowl championship teams was made during Monday evening's National Signing Day reception held in the Ramsey Center Hospitality Room.
Stressing an importance to remember and honor both the history and tradition of Catamount football since his introduction as the 13th head coach in program history on Dec. 22, 2011, Speir was presented with the opportunity to bring Patten back to Cullowhee. Speir was on the staff of head coach Steve Hodgin from 1991 through 1996 while Patten was a Catamount student-athlete.
Patten, who is just a few hours shy of completing his collegiate degree from WCU, enrolled in classes part-time in January to finish his major in social work.
"We're very excited that David Patten is joining our football coaching staff for the 2013 season," said Speir. "David will bring a lot of energy, knowledge and passion to our program. Having someone like David with 12 years of NFL experience and three Super Bowl rings around our players and coaches will be a tremendous asset and boost to our program. He knows what it takes to compete at a high level and it's awesome to be able to have a guy on staff that came through our program at Western Carolina and excelled on the highest stage."
Patten spent 12 seasons in the National Football League with five different teams. He amassed 324 career receptions, spanning 4,715 yards and scored 24 touchdowns. The Hopkins, S.C., native also rushed 13 times for 106 yards while also returning 111 kickoffs for 2,273 yards, adding two more TDs to his career tally including one rushing and one on a return.
He spent time in team meetings, in the locker room and on the field with three potential NFL Hall of Fame members in quarterbacks Tom Brady and Drew Brees, as well as head coach Bill Belicheck.
Undrafted in 1996, Patten began his professional career with the Albany Firebirds of the Arena Football League (AFL) late in the season, finishing with four pass receptions for 111 yards and a TD.
Picked up as a rookie by the New York Giants in 1997, Patten posted 13 catches for 226 yards during his first season. His receiving numbers decreased over the next two seasons as the Giants moved him into more of a kick return role, recording 76 returns for 1,601 yards between 1998 and 1999.
The 2000 season saw Patten make a resurgence at wide out with a new team. He tallied a then career-best 38 catches for 546 yards with the Cleveland Browns before making the move to New England. With the Patriots from 2001 through 2004, Patten caught 165 passes for 2,513 yards and 16 touchdowns despite missing most of the 2003 season due to injury.
In a game on Oct. 21, 2001 at Indianapolis, Patten became the first player since Walter Payton in 1979 - and just the sixth NFL player at the time - to rush, catch and pass for a touchdown. He scored on a 29-yard end-around for the ground tally; caught a 91-yard pass from Tom Brady; and finished the triple by tossing an option pass to wide receiver Troy Brown for a 60-yard TD. All told, Patten finished with four catches for 117 yards and two touchdowns, one rush for 29 yards and one pass completion for 60 yards.
With New England, Patten's banner year came in 2002 when he tallied career highs in catches (61), receiving yards (824), and yards per game (51.5).
He was a part of three Super Bowl Championship teams - all with New England in Super Bowl XXXVI, XXXVIII and again in Super Bowl XXXIX. Patten scored an eight-yard TD against the St. Louis Rams in the Super Bowl XXXVI on Feb. 3, 2002.
The receiver went on to play with the Washington Redskins (2005-06) and New Orleans Saints (2007-08), recording his second-best career season of 54 catches for 792 yards in 2007.
Patten was one prong of WCU's heralded "three amigos" receiving corps that included Craig Aiken and Kerry Hayes - both of whom finished with over 2,600 yards receiving for the Catamounts from 1991 through 1994. Patten finished with 96 career catches for 1,563 yards and 14 touchdowns for the Purple & Gold. As a junior, he pulled in 32 passes for 564 yards, reaching the end zone six times. A season later, he posted a career-best 59 catches - the 11th-best single-season in school history - for 881 yards and seven TDs.
The Catamount football team is scheduled to break winter gym and open its annual spring drills on March 13 with the NCAA-mandated 15 practices to be spread over five weeks. Practice will culminate with a spring event scheduled for Saturday, April 20 in Cullowhee.