Originally posted on NESN.com  |  Last updated 5/10/13
For many NFL players, football is just a job. For Jerod Mayo, it’s his profession. Mayo takes great pride in his work on the field, and he knows how important his commitment off the field is to that success. During the season, Mayo works as hard as any player to perfect his craft, and in the offseason things don’t really change for him. While some guys spend their downtime touring the country or retreating to their summer houses, Mayo sticks around Foxboro so he can be close to work. “Guys have been here. It’s like we didn’t miss a beat,” Mayo said to reporters on Thursday. “I look at this as my profession. I don’t want there to be rules in place [when] your strength coach coach can work with you.” Mayo wouldn’t describe himself as anything more than just a blue collar player, and that hardworking style may be the perfect solution to the Patriots’ recent defensive woes. Mayo is a team captain and the leader of the Patriots’ defense. Vince Wilfork may be the longest tenured player on defense, but Mayo still wears the headset and calls the shots. So, when players are looking for direction, they look to Mayo, making it even more likely other players are infected with his tireless dedication and work ethic. This year, Mayo’s offseason has revolved around work, as if the season never stopped. His offseason highlight reel included a brief trip to the Virgin Islands with his wife Chantel and making plans to buy a snow blower to better prepare for next winter. Otherwise, he could be found working out or watching film even when the shortened offseason program kept him from the confines of Gillette Stadium — whatever he could do to stay sharp. “I like to work,” Mayo said. “I like to try to get better, and a lot of guys around here like to do that as well.” The Patriots’ program as a whole is predicated on hard work and commitment, but Mayo’s intensity raises the bar and impacts the culture for his teammates. But as the Patriots chase that elusive fourth Super Bowl title, he knows it takes more than just one man to affect a culture. “What’s the old saying, (that) it takes a community to raise a child? That’s how we do it here,” Mayo said. “We have a bunch of leaders on this team; not only can they learn from me just because they’re on the defensive side of the ball, but you can learn from Tom [Brady], Vince, guys that have been here, that have won championships.” Mayo has yet to join those two and earn a ring of his own, but he knows the Patriots are very close. With one of the league’s most prolific offenses, a legendary quarterback and the experience of one Super Bowl and two AFC Championship Games behind them, they have almost everything in place. Now, they need one of the NFL’s worst-rated defenses (25th in yards allowed and 28th in passing yards) to complete the set. But it won’t happen without hard work. Fortunately, they have just the guy for that task, and he’s always ready to work. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.

This article first appeared on NESN.com and was syndicated with permission.

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