The Moment Patriots Players Learned They Couldn’t Survive Air Force Training

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — If any New England Patriots players believed they could have been Air Force cadets had they chosen a different path after high school, the idea went out the window when the academy’s head football coach, Troy Calhoun, mentioned a week in the mountains.

Calhoun, who played quarterback at Air Force in the 1980s, addressed the Patriots prior to Wednesday’s practice to let the team know just what life is like as an Air Force cadet. It includes wakeup call at 4:30 a.m. and lights out at 11. If players were still on board after that revelation, then word that cadets have to fend for themselves in the Colorado mountains had them thinking otherwise.

“Just kinda hearing, it starts off like, ‘OK, it’s not that bad. That’s kind of like camp.’ Then they have another week where they just go out into the mountains and it’s just them,” running back Brandon Bolden said. “It’s like, ‘Ooh, lost me on that one.’ They said you’ve got to get your own nutrition and stuff like that. Then he made the comment, ‘You hope that there’s a rabbit out there.’ Ahh, I ain’t the fastest guy, so we gotta trap him. I’m not catching no rabbit.”

So, what would Bolden do in that situation?

“I might just have to go off the guy from Discovery Channel and just start chopping up a tree, because that’s probably the most stationary thing I can get my hands on,” Bolden said. “And we’re just going to eat bark for a whole week. I’m not chasing a rabbit. Or hopefully a bird just falls out of the sky, flies into a tree or something and lands in my lap. Besides that, nah. It’s not going to be me out there.”

Bolden acknowledged eating bark probably wouldn’t keep him going for the entire week.

“Nah, it would be my flare that would be waiving, they’d have to come get me out,” Bolden said. “Maybe airlift, because I’m not moving.”

Bolden wasn’t the only player that was out on the prospects of Air Force life after Calhoun’s speech.

“This is obviously not for me, but I’ll tell you what, man, it gave us a new perspective on what those guys really do,” safety Duron Harmon said. “We see the Air Force Academy, the Naval Academy and the Army, all those guys go out there and play football, but we don’t see their basic training they do when they first come in, the survivor training and still going through all these classes, still playing football. You have a real respect for them, because those are the guys that are going to be protecting us, keeping this country safe, and they have a lot of responsibilities. They don’t shy away from those responsibilities. They attack them, and that’s why they’re the guys who are at this academy and the guys serving this country.”

The Patriots got a surprise at the end of practice when the United States Air Force parachute team, Wings of Blue, jumped out of an aircraft and onto the field.

Thumbnail photo via Chuck Cook/USA TODAY Sports Images

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