A motto to live by: "Live life as a Patriot"

After the best ten-year stretch in franchise history, the New England Patriots have started planning for the next ten years this offseason, by signing tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez to contract extensions. Yesterday, Hernandez and the Pats agreed to a deal to keep the 22-year-old in New England until at least 2018.

According to this ESPN Boston article Hernandez not only promised to play his heart out for the Patriots, but also donated $50,000 to the Myra Kraft Giving Back Fund. He showed signs of youth and immaturity when he came out of the University of Florida, but it is clear that with this contract, the organization has faith in his play and character going forward. Hernandez said it was a "dream come true" to receive this contract, but the quote that stuck out most to me, came at the end of Mike Rodak's article.

"Not only is it $50,000, cause that's not really, that's just the money that really doesn't mean much, with the amount given, it's more, I have a lot more to give back, and all I can do is play my heart out for them, make the right decisions, and live life as a Patriot," Hernandez said.

"Live life as a Patriot," is similar to something we've heard before. The "Patriot Way" is something we've heard repeatedly from players, coaches, and lauded by members of the media and especially Trent Dilfer. Hernandez is proof this is not a myth.

The $50,000 donation shows how Hernandez is maturing, and although his touchdown dance still may be extravagant, all the quotes from the Patriots' charity gala displays the maturation of the young tight end. He not only wants to perform well for the team so he will truly earn the millions from his new contract, but he also wants to reward Bob Kraft for the faith shown in Hernandez.

The Bristol, Conn. native grew up rooting for the Patriots. After leaving the region for three years to be a Gator, he returned to New England after his favorite team drafted him, and he now has the coveted contract extension. He has lived his whole life as a Patriot.

For Pats fans in Hernandez's generation, living life as a Patriot has been the best of times. We've seen three Super Bowls wins in four years, six AFC championships and an undefeated regular season. In the Tom Brady and Bill Belichick era the Patriots have been the envy of the NFL.

Of course living like a Patriot isn't all good. New England hasn't won a Super Bowl in seven years. The Patriots have lost their last two tries in the big game to the New York Giants, in 2007 it cost them a perfect season. And don't forget the national hatred toward the Pats that comes from SpyGate, Belichick's personality and Brady's good looks, and well his wife's good looks, too.

Hernandez will continue to live life as a Patriot for at least six more seasons. Hopefully the relationship stretches past 2018 and blossoms into a lifelong one.