UNNAMED DESERT—After providing his 2010 draft picks with only two canteens of water, a flashlight, and a cheap compass, New England Patriots head coach Bill Belichick dumped his 12 newest players in the middle of a desert wasteland Tuesday and told them to find their way back to Foxboro on their own.
Belichick, who has always initiated new Patriots with this same survival ordeal, refused to give the dazed and disoriented football players even the slightest hint as to their exact location. However, the infamously Machiavellian coach told his draft picks that there was no potable surface water for "hundreds of miles"; that it would be in their best interests not to attempt to contact any locals who crossed their path; that only the fruit at the very center of the thornbushes would be edible; that most of the indigenous wildlife, especially the arachnids, was very, very poisonous; and that one of the things he had just told them was a lie.
"Show me what you got, boys," Belichick said to the group from the backseat of a spotless black Range Rover. "If you want to be on this team, I'll see you in four days. And if you've been paying attention at all, you'll know exactly what to do. Oh, you can take your blindfolds off now. "
"By the way, Devin [McCourty]? I'd check that flashlight you're holding to see if it has any batteries. I might have forgotten to put them in," Belichick continued. "Not that a little thing like that should stop you. See Wes [Welker], here, the man with the honor of being my chauffeur? This resourceful bastard actually beat me home, so it's not like it can't be done.
"Now don't let that desert sun get to you, boys. It can play some pretty crazy tricks on the mind," he added. "Okay, Wes, let's get out of here."
After Belichick gave the confused group a small handgun loaded with a single bullet "just in cases someone wants the easy way out," the luxury SUV drove off, sending sand and dust flying into the players' eyes.
Devin McCourty, Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Spikes, Taylor Price, Aaron Hernandez, Zoltan Mesko, Ted Larsen, Thomas Welch, Brandon Deaderick, Kade Weston, and Zac Robinson have been traversing the barren wasteland now for three days, walking over 60-foot sand dunes and braving the arid conditions while 35-mph winds whip sand into their unprotected eyes.
Second-round pick Jermaine Cunningham, a promising outside linebacker, died Thursday of sunstroke.
"I think [Belichick] drugged us," McCourty, the former Rutgers cornerback, said. "We were all at his home for that welcoming dinner, and the next thing I knew I was blindfolded, going in and out of consciousness. I know at one point we were in a plane, because I heard a captain's announcement. When I tried to take my blindfold off I'm pretty sure Tedy Bruschi hit me across the face with a Super Bowl trophy. That's how I lost these teeth, I think."
"I don't think we're in America," said 62nd overall pick Brandon Spikes, tilting a canteen upside down in a failed attempt to get one last drop of water. "I've never seen lizards that size in America. [Kade] Weston never had a chance."
Although the group of draft picks thought they were making progress Thursday, they were demoralized when they came upon footprints they determined to be their own—an indicator that they had been walking in a circle for the last day and a half. The players were further dispirited when they discovered a Patriots-hat-wearing skeleton buried just beneath the sand that turned out to be the remains of 2009 New England draft pick Rich Ohrnberger.
"Ohrnberger was a big guy, man," former Ohio wide receiver Taylor Price said. "He carried a lot of water in that big body, and he didn't make it. What chance does a skill-position player like me have? We're lost. Jesus Christ, Welch, you got us lost."
"We're all gonna die," he added.
The players again thought they were on the right track when they found a backpack containing kindling material, 12 cans of refried beans, and a note from Belichick saying, "Enjoy!" However, after nearly eating the beans, former Oklahoma State quarterback Zac Robinson dumped them all out on the ground and kicked sand over them.
"You idiots, they're probably poisonous," Robinson said. "Or maybe they aren't poisonous, and he just wants us to think they're poisonous. Either way, this man is insane. He's trying to fuck with us. This is a game to him. Everything's a game to him. Can't you see? This is all one big fucking game!"
As of press time, eight of the 12 draft picks remained alive. Although they have largely stuck together, the group has steadily fractured. With dehydration and hysteria setting in, Thomas Welch severely beat and nearly killed Zoltan Mesko with the butt end of the flashlight for eating the last sand cake, and Rob Gronkowski was muttering that he would murder anyone who even thought about stealing his "precious, precious diamonds."
"Look at them," said Belichick, cool and comfortable in an impeccable white safari suit, watching from a dune several hundred yards away with team owner Robert Kraft and quarterback Tom Brady. "For God's sake, none of those beans were poisonous…. I don't think any of them are worth a damn. Let's just leave."