Another NFR (Down the Line, Stran Smith)

Another Wrangler National Finals has come and gone and I want to congratulate my nephew, Tuf Cooper, for winning his first gold buckle.  He’s roped well all year and I’m very proud of him. I’d sure like to give him a run for his money before I’m done.

Tuf came to my hotel room before the last performance to see if I had any advice. I told him he’d already done the hardest thing, which was sleeping the night before. Tuf is not an early riser and I was a little surprised to get a text from him the next morning at 8:00 a.m. It said: “You were wrong. The hardest thing to do is sleep the night after you win your first gold buckle.” I had to agree, because it took me two or three days before I got a good night’s rest.

This year, we saw a whole new bunch of young ropers. I call them the Ninja Turtles. And, some of the guys that are normally there were absent, like Fred and me. We’ll probably see Fred competing again next year and I’m hopeful to be there myself.

Lots of folks have asked whether I’m injured and basically why I didn’t rodeo in 2011. I went to about twelve rodeos but what has had me sidelined is a fractured pelvis. I was trying a ranch horse who decided to buck me off at a dead run. He didn’t get that accomplished, but did have me convinced I’d pulled my groin. I gave myself a few weeks off before entering a rodeo. As I was crossing and tying the calf, I was fairly certain I would pass out from the pain. I didn’t, but realized then there was something more serious going on than a pulled groin. Dr. Tandy confirmed it with x-rays and I just haven’t healed as quickly as I would like. We recently did an MRI that showed two fractures with some ligament damage and he is conferring with some specialists.

Right now, I’m focused on healing and seizing this opportunity to enjoy my time at home. This is probably the most fun I can remember having. We had our little girl this year and it’s been so nice to be home and spoil her and enjoy the boys.

I would also like to take my hat off to Trevor Brazile. I don’t know if people realize that we are watching an athlete that comes along once in a lifetime, maybe. I know how difficult it is to be one of the top competitors in one event. Trevor consistently is a top competitor in three events. He makes it look so easy that we take his talent for granted. It demonstrates his skill set and how hard he works at what he does. He makes history on a daily basis and I congratulate him for his accomplishments.

Congratulations to all the 2011 World Champions! I’m going to get well and then I’ll see you all somewhere down the line. God Bless.