Tom Brady’s Team-Friendly Extension Is Perfect Example of How Elite NFL Players Should Lead

AFC Champiohship Football“Attitude reflects leadership, captain.”

Maybe Tom Brady never saw Julius Campbell’s 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 little else in sports. Bill Belichick began the trend in his first season in New England in 2001, and Brady, more than any other player, has carried that torch over the past 13 seasons. His new contract extension takes that leadership to new heights.

Brady signed a three-year, $27 million extension  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 nearly $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 more than $100 million in the NFL already, plus tens of millions 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 a godsend. Brady knew that, and he acted on it.

Now the Patriots can afford Wes Welker or Sebastian Vollmer or Aqib Talib. Or maybe it’s all three. The Pats have the money to spend on big free agents this offseason, and they can resolve some of 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 more than, any other player in the NFL. For all the humility he displays after wins, he also shows frustration and disappointment after losses. 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.

Brady’s impact on the field has helped build the winning tradition in New England, but it’s his influence off the field that 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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