David Patten, who helped the New England Patriots clinch three Super Bowls between 2001 and 2004, died Thursday, according to a statement from the Patriots.
A South Carolina native, Patten was 47 years old.
According to The State newspaper, the Richland County (SC) Coroner confirmed that Patten died in a motorcycle crash. The South Carolina Highway Patrol say Patten's motorcycle crossed the center line into opposing traffic and struck another vehicle just outside Columbia, South Carolina.
The Richland County Coroner's office has not responded to CNN's request for more information.
"I am heartbroken by the news of David's passing," said Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft. "He was a devout Christian who followed his passion following his football career and founded his own ministry. David transitioned from an undersized and understated wide receiver to a powerful and passionate preacher. In New England, he will always be remembered as a three-time Super Bowl Champion."
Patten's manager and friend, Sam Gordon, expressed his grief in a heartfelt post on social media.
"Very rarely do people get to call their childhood heroes/favorite players their friends. You blessed with me with that," wrote Gordon. "Thank you so much for your friendship, your inspiration, and trusting me to be your manager."
Patten played for five different NFL teams in his 12-year career, finding his greatest success as a member of the Patriots.
Patten holds the distinction of catching Tom Brady's first career Super Bowl touchdown pass in 2002. Patten's twisting catch for an 8-yard score was the only offensive touchdown for the Patriots in their 20-17 win over the St. Louis Rams.
Patten was with the Patriots for two more Super Bowl wins over the next three years.
In an Instagram story post, Brady wrote of Patten, "The consummate professional. RIP my friend. My love goes out to David's family."
Former Patriots quarterback Drew Bledsoe tweeted: "Great player. Better man. Rest In Peace my friend."