Patriots longtime equipment manager Don Brocher died early Tuesday morning due to complications from leukemia.
Brocher was the longest-tenured employee in franchise history. The 2012 season was his 41st with the Patriots. He was 60 years old.
"The Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization awoke with very heavy hearts this morning," said Patriots owner Robert Kraft in a statement. "That is when most of us learned of Dons passing. He had fought this deadly disease so valiantly all season long. We were all optimistic that he would defeat it and fully recover. He was back on our sidelines just two weeks ago for our game against the 49ers and I cant remember ever seeing him happier. I am glad I had that opportunity to thank him once again for his loyalty and countless contributions to the team. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Laurie, and all who knew Don and are mourning his loss today."
Brocher missed a game for the first time in 40 years in August when the Patriots played at Tampa Bay. Before that time, according to the team, he had worked 834 consecutive Patriots games, including 37 of 39 playoff games.
Brocher started working for the Patriots as a ball boy in 1972. He worked his way up the ranks on the equipment staff and was promoted to manager in 1994 after Kraft purchased the team.