Originally written on NESN.com  |  Last updated 2/26/13

NEW ORLEANS - NOVEMBER 30: Quarterback Tom Brady #12 of the New England Patriots celebrates after Laurence Maroney scored a 2-yard rushing touchdown in the third quarter against the New Orleans Saints at Louisana Superdome on November 30, 2009 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Scott Halleran/Getty Images)
“Attitude reflects leadership, captain.” Maybe Tom Brady never saw Julius Campbell‘s provocative swipe at Gary Bertier in Remember the Titans, but the Patriots captain has proudly worn that motto on his sleeve since his first days in the NFL. It is the “Patriot way” after all. The Patriots organization promotes a selfless, team-oriented atmosphere unlike almost anything else in sports. Bill Belichick began the trend with his endless rhetoric from his first season in New England in 2001, and Brady, more than any other player, has carried that torch proudly over the past 13 seasons. His new contract extension takes that leadership to even new heights. Brady signed a three-year, $27 million extension on Monday, assuring that he will be with the organization through the 2017 season and that in all likelihood he will retire as a Patriot. His decision not only provides stability at the league’s most important position for the next half decade, but the near $15 million it will save in salary cap space over the next two seasons means the Patriots’ championship window will remain wide open. No, Brady won’t be playing for the league minimum. So, it’s not like he’s going broke for the love of the game. He isn’t exactly strapped for the cash, either. Brady has made over $100 million in the NFL already, plus tens more in sponsorships. He owns a stake in Under Armour and his wife makes about twice his salary on average. With the restructure and subsequent extension, he’s also guaranteed the full $60 million left on his contract — a rare if not unheard of feat for a soon-to-be 36-year-old quarterback. So, there is no need to shed any tears. Tom is going to be just fine. To Brady and his family, the money may not be a big loss. But for the Patriots, the added cash flow is like a Godsend. Brady knew that, and so he acted on it. Now they can afford Wes Welker or Sebastian Vollmer or Aqib Talib. Or maybe it’s all three. Maybe they have the money to spend on big free agents this offseason and they can finally resolve those pressing needs. The difference between what could have been maybe $30 million to $40 million for Brady could ultimately mean something much more valuable: Super Bowl trophies. Few players, never mind quarterbacks have the relentless desire needed to win in the NFL. That is why only eight active starting quarterbacks have even won a single Super Bowl, which makes Brady’s three even more impressive. Brady wants to win as bad as, if not worse than, any other player in the NFL. You admire the humility he displays after wins, but you also appreciate the frustration and unacceptable disappointment he expresses in a loss. He is emotional about winning, yet very rational and stout in his business decisions. But when it comes down to the numbers, wins will always trump dollar signs with Brady. That is just is his character. Unfortunately, not all NFL players, or athletes for that matter, share Brady’s view on the business. Many are out to get top dollar at all times with personal interests always at least one step ahead of the team’s. But this is where Brady truly defines himself as both a player and a leader. While other players scrounge for their keep and lock their team up in cap jail, like Joe Flacco will likely do to the Ravens this offseason, Brady constantly takes discounts and restructures his own finances for the betterment of the team. It’s not quite as selfless as something you’d find in the Holy Bible, but in the sports fans’ bible it would be up at the top. Brady’s impact on the field has helped build the winning tradition in New England, but his influence off the field has kept it alive for so long. He exudes the Patriot Way, so much so that teammates even view him as “the definition of a team player,” which is the ultimate compliment for such a superstar. Leadership has been mistaken for statistics and talent in recent years, but it hasn’t been lost on everyone. Brady still understands just how important it is to cultivate a winning attitude, and he knows the best way to express it is through action. The only way to lead is by example, and Brady showed he is more than willing to do so. Have a question for Luke Hughes? Send it to him via Twitter at @LukeFHughes or send it here.
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