Pio Sagapolutele, a defensive lineman who played five years for Cleveland and started in the 1997 Super Bowl for New England, has died. He was 39.
His death was confirmed by the Patriots on Tuesday. The Plain Dealer of Cleveland said he died Saturday of an aneurysm in Chandler, Ariz., where he lived.
Sagapolutele also played for New Orleans during a seven-year NFL career. The Patriots lost to Green Bay 35-21 in his Super Bowl start. He played 97 games in the NFL, starting 34.
Sagapolutele was drafted by the Browns in the fourth round in 1991 from San Diego State. He played defensive end and tackle for a team coached by current Patriots coach Bill Belichick. He signed with the Patriots in 1996, where Belichick went as an assistant. His final season was 1997 with the Saints.
Sagapolutele was selected as part of Cleveland’s first draft class.
“We saw a tough, hardworking, dependable player and that is exactly what Pio brought to his teams on a daily and yearly basis,” Belichick said in a statement released by the Patriots. “He was a quiet leader and a significant contributor.”
Sagapolutele, who was born in American Samoa, is survived by his wife and four children.
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