FOXBORO, Mass. — Linebacker Jerod Mayo has become synonymous with the Patriots' defense over the last four years, and he has served as a bridge between the greats of the past and the generation of the future.
Yet, for Mayo to truly establish himself among the class of the organization's Super Bowl era, he knows he's got to experience some postseason success, which has eluded him to this point in his career. The Patriots missed the playoffs during his rookie season in 2008 and were one and done in both 2009 and 2010.
"I wouldn't be human if I didn't think about it," Mayo said. "I think about it all the time. But at the end of the day, what can you do? After you lose a playoff game, you have to wait a whole 'nother year. So now the opportunity is here, and you just have to take advantage of it. I'm working hard. The team is working hard, and we're just making those sacrifices to hopefully get a victory."
Last week, Mayo became the first player in team history to surpass 100 total tackles in each of his first four seasons, and he has led the Patriots in that category each season. The three-time captain acknowledged it's "a good stat" but has higher aspirations, particularly since they've been the norm around Gillette Stadium.
"Definitely, the expectations of the fans, the media, the coaches are so high, but at the same time, it forces you to be good," Mayo said. "We love it, and it helps us strive."
The Patriots' postseason drought has been viewed as something of an oddity after their brilliant run earlier in the decade, and it might be even more eye-opening due to their regular-season success, which obviously predates Mayo's tenure. But during his time in New England, the Patriots have been 48-16 in the regular season.
Mayo spoke with some inflection in his voice while discussing the playoff failures in recent years, and he's driven to end them, which is just another example of how perfect he's been for that locker room. That, in part, was why the Patriots gave him a five-year contract extension to keep him in New England through 2017, if not beyond.
"I love it here," Mayo said. "This is all I know. I love the coaches. I love the owners. I just love being around the guys. This is my family. I want to finish my career here."