FOXBORO, Mass. — Julian Edelman and Tom Brady have a lot in common, but a lot of New England Patriots players can find similarities with their quarterback.

That’s the beauty of the “Patriot Way.” Brady’s not treated special. If he is special, it’s because he arrives earlier and works harder than any of his teammates. And if the 37-year-old with three kids, a supermodel wife and three Super Bowl rings is willing to put in the extra effort, then his less talented teammates better be willing to, as well.

“I mean, that’s TB,” Edelman said about his quarterback arriving to Gillette Stadium over six hours early for Sunday night’s 45-7 AFC Championship Game win over the Indianapolis Colts. “You’re not surprised when he does stuff like that, because he’s such a feisty fighter, grinder. And he’s our leader, so when you see a guy like that do that, it makes other guys feel a little more comfortable I guess. Our leader’s here. He’s here early — motivated, more confident.

“If he can do it, I can do it. He was a sixth-round draft pick. This locker room is filled with guys and stories like that. Guys that weren’t wanted. Guys that have had to change positions — not necessarily me, other guys. That’s what Coach Belichick does, I guess. He finds football players, and Tom’s probably the best football player.”

Edelman was a seventh-round draft pick that wasn’t going to make it at quarterback, his college position, so the Patriots gave him a chance at wide receiver. Then they gave him a shot at punt returner and cornerback, too. And since he’s a Patriot, he was willing to do it all.

Edelman had a chance to join another team over the offseason when he was highly sought-after following a 100-catch, 1,000-yard season. Edelman — who now will play in Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1 against the Seattle Seahawks — made the right decision to come back to New England.

“I’m grateful,” Edelman said. “I’m a Patriot in and out. That’s all in the past. I can’t even picture being anywhere else.”

What does being a Patriot mean to Edelman?

“It means you bring the lunchpail to work, helmet, you go work,” Edelman said. “You prepare, you get yelled at, you do all this kind of stuff. You work extra, you watch more film. And it’s for situations and things like this, to go play in the last game of the year. I think that’s what being a Patriot means.”

One of the biggest reasons Edelman decided to come back back was to continue playing under his signal-caller and leader, Brady, who will appear in his sixth Super Bowl. Brady threw for 226 yards and three touchdowns with one interception while completing 23 of 35 passes.

“Tom Brady’s Tom Brady,” Edelman said succinctly. “He was a sixth-round draft pick, a lot of people passed up on him. He’s a Super Bowl champion, Super Bowl MVP, he’s been in a bunch of Super Bowls, and he could care less about all of that. He just cares about winning the next game. That’s our leader, and that’s why you have a guy like that leading us. He’s an unbelievable person, and I truly love that man. I do. It’s great to have him as part of this team.”

Brady must have been happy to have his friend split out wide in Sunday’s win, too. Edelman led the team with nine catches, 11 targets and 98 yards.

The silver lining for Edelman? He receives a $500,000 bonus because the Patriots are playing in the Super Bowl. That’s what he gets for bringing his “lunch pail” to work every day.

Thumbnail photo via Stew Milne/USA TODAY Sports Images