Saturday, Dec. 6, 2008 | 2 a.m.
Reelin’ in the years
The Wrangler National Finals Rodeo turns 50 this year, but with $5.625 million in prize money, has never looked better to the cowboys and cowgirls who compete for gold buckles in its seven events. Other institutions that turned 50 this year are NASA, the Daytona 500 and the LEGO brick — so don’t be surprised if Buzz Aldrin and Cale Yarborough ride into the Thomas & Mack Center on horses made of interlocking blocks.
Horsin’ around (the dial)
ESPN Classic and ESPN2 will air a record six of the NFR’s 10 performances live. The other four will be shown on tape delay on ESPN2. Though it might be cool if Chris Berman shouted “Whoop!” every time a bull tossed its rider, my guess is they will use real rodeo announcers, like Donnie Gay.
Trevor Brazile’s bank account
The cowboy from Decatur, Texas, is within reach of his sixth all-around world championship, which would tie him with rodeo legends Larry Mahan and Tom Ferguson. He also is expected to become the PRCA’s first $3 million cowboy (in career earnings) during the NFR. My guess is he’ll say the championships are more important than the money. My second guess is a lot of people may not believe him.
The Road Hammers
The band from Canada “barreling down across the border like a big ol’ eighteen-wheeler” (that’s what it says on its Web site) that played Wednesday at the Downtown Hoedown on Fremont Street gets my vote for best name among the countrified acts entertaining fans during the NFR. Next to “Larry the Cable Guy” of course. But if the “Good Ol’ Boys” from the Blues Brothers were to show up on short notice, I could change my mind.
I’m not really sure how the cowboy from Alpine, Texas, is going to do in this year’s team roping event. I just wanted to type “Turtle Powell” at least once during the NFR.
Rocky Mountain spring water
The levels in those streams are going to be a little lower after the NFR leaves town as fans of the rodeo are expected to consume 75,000 beers during its 10-day run. The reserve barrels of sour mash in the distillery at Lynchburg, Tenn., will also take a hit, as 11,000 drinks with Jack Daniel’s will be served. Any more than that, and it’s best to stop counting.