Thursday, February 25, 2010

Mosi Tatupu

Former Patriots running back Mosi Tatupu passed away the other day at the not-so-old age of 54. Tatupu never starred in the NFL but he was one of those guys fans love: he was versatile, he gave his all, he played a long time and he had a cool name. As Tatupu played at fullback and special teams so he never amassed huge rushing totals. In a 14-year career he topped 80 yards in a game only six times. Here's his six biggest games:

1) 12/12/82 81 yards
2) 11/13/83 95 yards
3) 12/04/83 128 yards
4) 10/07/84 83 yards
5) 10/14/84 93 yards
6) 10/21/84 90 yards

And guess who the opponent was in three of those six games? Of course, the Miami Dolphins (games 1, 2, and 6). Back in the 80's, role players and draft day disappointments frequently metamorphosized into human highlight films when facing the Dolphins defense. Why not Mosi Totupu? One of the above games is kind of famous. Do you know? Do you know? Here's a hint. Final score: 3-0.

It's the first one on the list. A New England victory that we now know as "The Snowplow Game". You know, the one where that convict was somehow allowed to drive his snowplow (really a tractor with a big broom attached) onto the field to clear a spot for the game-winning kick. The only score of the day. The weather was so bad the Patriots completed only two passes all day and pretty much spent the whole game handing off to either Mark Van Eghan or Mosi Tatupu, who got his 81 yards on only 13 carries. Don Shula got so mad about the whole thing he actually got the NFL to impose a new No Snowplow rule. That's right. No groundskeepers may clear snow before a kick now. The last time I saw Shula interviewed about the game he still seemed pretty ticked off about it. The man holds a grudge. But while we remember the stupid Snowplow Game for its infamous ending, on the occasion of his passing let's also now remember it as the very first time Mosi Tatupu helped plow his team to victory.

Too-infrequent Pass Interference contributor Jeff remembers Pete Axthelm, who also left us too early, joking about "the Pats' inexplicable overuse of [Tatupu] in a late season game back when they sucked." The witty Axthelm called Mosi, "the increaingly slowin' Samoan."

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