Originally posted on FOX Sports  |  Last updated 1/1/13
When the New England Patriots kick off their quest for another Super Bowl appearance, they'll be doing so with heavy hearts. Don Brocher, a longtime equipment manager for the team, died Monday night due to complications from leukemia. Brocher, 60, was in the midst of his 41st season with the organization, making him the longest-tenured employee in Patriots history. "The Kraft family and the entire Patriots organization awoke with very heavy hearts this morning," Patriots Chairman and CEO Robert Kraft said. "That is when most of us learned of Don's 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 can't 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's tenure with the Patriots began with him serving as a ball boy on the equipment manager's staff in 1972. He was then hired full time as an assistant that season.
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