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Sagapolutele, who started for Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI, dies at 39

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. -- Pio Sagapolutele, a defensive lineman who played five years for the Cleveland Browns and started in Super Bowl XXXI for the New England Patriots, has died. He was 39.

Sagapolutele's death was confirmed by the Patriots on Tuesday. The Plain Dealer of Cleveland said that Sagapolutele died Saturday of an aneurism in Chandler, Ariz., where he lived.

Career Statistics
Games/Starts: 92/34

Tackles: 89

Sacks: 7

Sagapolutele also played for the New Orleans Saints during a seven-year NFL career. He played in 92 NFL games and started 34.

The Patriots lost to the Green Bay Packers 35-21 in Sagapolutele's Super Bowl start.

Sagapolutele was selected by the Browns in the fourth round of the 1991 draft out of San Diego State. He played defensive end and tackle for a Browns team coached by current Patriots coach Bill Belichick. Sagapolutele signed with the Patriots in 1996, when Belichick was an assistant for the team, and his final NFL season was in 1997 with the Saints.

"We saw a tough, hard-working, 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.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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