Some sad news to reflect on today.
Patriots wide receiver David Patten has decided to hang them up. The 35 year old announced his retirement this morning at an impromptu press conference.
"This is in no way, shape or form what I anticipated coming back here this year. I'm actually a little saddened that I'm proving some of the naysayers right this morning. Some felt I signed back with the team to retire, but that was not part of my thought process. I honestly felt like I could still play this game and play at a high level. I felt the competitive spirit and nature was still there, but over the course of the last two days and over the course of the break [before training camp] away from the team, there was a lot of reflection. There was a lot of contemplation. I just felt like it was time. It just hit me yesterday. Camp was going really well. I was still able to go out and be competitive and operate at a high level, but I believe once you get to the point in your career where it's multiple years, it would be my 13th year, and you're thinking about it mentally and you're not 100 percent into it mentally wise, it's tough to play this game. I always felt like when I got to that that point, it would be in my best interests to walk away."
While none of us can be too surprised that Patten has decided to retire, you can't help but wonder if he was put into a situation similar to the one that Tedy Bruschi was in last season. The Patriots had a logjam at the receiver position, and it's possible Patten believed he was facing long odds.
It's hard to even find words to summarize David Patten's career. But there is one thing I do know, I'm going to miss him a lot. That's a little strange, considering Patten hasn't played a game for the Patriots in nearly six years. However, having back on the team this offseason was really great. It seemed that, just about every week, there was a good story about Patten, his play on the field, or his leadership off the field.
David Patten had all the intangibles. First into the weight room, last to leave. He was smart, a good leader. Patriots coach Bill Belichick, had this to say about Patten:
"He had a tremendous career. He's meant a lot to this team. Going back to '01, when we were getting this program started, the toughness, the attitude, the leadership he brought to this football team in a sort of quiet Troy Brown-like way, he just did his job and worked hard, set the pace for everybody to keep up with."
Second year man Julian Edelman also had kind words for Patten:
"Coming on time, being early, taking care of your body, competing at all times, when you're in the weight room, you're running routes, you're running sprints, that's what David Patten brought. He brought a work ethic that's awesome, and physically he could still do it, which was awesome. ...David would always say ‘it's a roller coaster. There's ups and downs, and you just have to be level with it.' He'd say something like that [to me]."
Even a veteran like Kevin Faulk, had words to reflect the type of person that David Patten is, and what he meant to the football team:
"It's not a [single] game for David Patten [that I remember]. It's David Patten the person that I remember. Sitting out, having talks with guys that needed an inspirational talk, that he felt were going in the wrong direction. That's the David Patten I remember. I will remember the football part, but as a person, him sitting down talking to guys on the football team, one-on-one, and letting them know who's first in life, before we do anything, and that's god. That's what I remember David for."
In some ways, it was strange seeing Patten up on that podium. In his first stint with the Patriots, I never really appreciated the person that Patten was, but he was never one to get up and make a big deal about things. Patten even said it himself:
"If I had my way, I'd have ridden off into the sunset like I came in. But to have this opportunity to address the media and fans, I want to say how much I appreciated the opportunity."
I haven't been shy about how David Patten was one of my favorite players on the Patriots. I understand he was facing long odds. However, with his work ethic, you couldn't count him out. I'm confident that he still has the skills to be on an NFL roster, and I think, with the way he was performing, he had a legitimate chance to beat out Torry Holt for the final roster spot.
Part of me wishes I could have at least seen David Patten in a preseason game making a few catches, but I can't get greedy. David Patten had a great career for the Patriots, with some unforgettable moments. I have a feeling that the values and intangibles he displayed will have an impact on the young Patriots' receivers this year, and beyond.