Greatest cowboy of all time hopes to wrangle in world record payout at AT&T Stadium

Decatur cowboy Trevor Brazile, competing in 2009, captured the team roping heading and steer roping titles at the Windy Ryon Memorial Roping, Sunday, May 27, 2018.
Decatur cowboy Trevor Brazile, competing in 2009, captured the team roping heading and steer roping titles at the Windy Ryon Memorial Roping, Sunday, May 27, 2018. ASSOCIATED PRESS archives

This weekend’s RFD-TV’s “The American” at AT&T Stadium is the type of rodeo Trevor Brazile is looking for.

The Arlington rodeo is only an hour’s drive from his Decatur home. It lasts only two days and it pays big bucks.

It’s the perfect fit for the 42-year-old Brazile, the sport’s winningest cowboy who announced he would enter into “semi” retirement at the December Wrangler National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas.

“I definitely have to put ‘semi’ on there because I love rodeo and I just love the industry, and so big money events and anything that I’ve qualified for that gives big paydays that don’t take too much away from being at home, I’ll be there,” Brazile said.

The American is one of them. The purse is $2.35 million, a world record payout for a two-day rodeo. The rodeo will be approved by the Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association for the first time, which means in this case that some of the prize money will count toward the PRCA world standings.

The performances begin at 6:30 p.m. on Saturday and 2 p.m. on Sunday.

Brazile entered into “semi” retirement after more than two decades on the PRCA circuit to focus on spending more time with his family. He said he would mainly compete in larger rodeos close to home such as the Fort Worth Stock Show, the San Antonio Stock Show, RodeoHouston and The American.

Dave Appleton, the 1988 world all-around champion from Fort Worth who serves as a TV announcer for rodeos, said Brazile’s decision to focus on larger shows could be advantageous.

“The fact that he’s only going to go to the bigger rodeos, all that means is that he’s going to be fresh and dangerous every time he backs into the box,” Appleton said. “He may perform better on a limited schedule because he’s in a good place in his life. He’s taken the day-to-day grind of rodeoing off of his plate to where he can practice, be fresh and ready to roll at those big rodeos.”

The American features cowboys and cowgirls who have competed at the National Finals Rodeo and some who have earned a berth though a system of qualifying rodeos.

Randy Bernard, who founded The American for RFD-TV, said Brazile is one high profile rodeo competitor who is an embodiment of the event.

“Trevor never quit and he perfected his game like Michael Jordan or Joe Montana or LeBron James,” Bernard said. “Trevor has always stayed on top of his game and took care of his priorities, his family, his friends and his sport and his religion as a Christian. Everything he’s ever done for the sport has been such a positive influence on the sport.”

Brazile, who turned pro in 1976, is the PRCA’s highest money earner with more than $6.8 million. During the December National Finals, Brazile clinched a record 24th PRCA world title when he snared the all-around gold buckle, which traditionally is the sport’s most coveted award.

With 24 gold buckles, Brazile has six more than Guy Allen, who has 18 steer roping world championships. In the multiple event category, Brazile has eight more than Jim Shoulders, who earned 16 championships in the late 1940s and 1950s. In the all-around category, Brazile has 14 gold buckles, twice as many as late 1980s and 1990s bronc and bull rider Ty Murray of Stephenville, who ranks second on the all-time list with seven.

Brazile has won the all-around, pro rodeo’s multiple event title, by competing on a world class level in three roping events. He’s also earned six steer roping world titles, three tie-down roping world championships and team roping heading gold buckle.

Brazile clinched the all-around title at the 2018 NFR. But he struggled at times during the Las Vegas championships. He won Round 4, with a blistering time of 6.8, which was the fastest time at the 2018 NFR. However, he turned in slugglish times in three of the 10 rounds after catching his calves on a second loop.

“I won two rounds [and shared the title in another one], and I tied the fastest calf [in 6.8], and those were the highlights,” he said. “But missing three calves [on the first loop] was probably a new record for me too. That might have been from trying the naysayers wrong at age 42. So, I was trying to be faster than I needed to be in certain situations. I was so thankful to have a chance when it came to the 10th round.”

Brazile won the 10th round with a 7.2, which helped him to clinch the 2018 world all-around title.

Brazile said he’s competed full-time longer than he had originally planned. He credited his wife, Shada, for homeschooling their children in recent years, which enabled him to continue to travel to rodeos throughout North America. The Braziles have three children (a son, Treston, 11 and daughters, Style, 8, and Swayzi, 3).

“Luckily, my wife loved home schooling and loved getting our kids to go with us,” Brazile said. “So, it bought me a little more time.”

Brazile’s children currently attend public school and he said he wants to be around to help them grow up.

“I want to leave rodeo better than I found it,” he said. “But I want my children to be able to make an impact on the world, to achieve their dreams and to become good people.”

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Sports editor William Wilkerson is back for his second stint with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. He first worked at the paper after graduating from the University of Texas at Austin. He most recently was the Executive Editor of College-Team Sites for CBS Interactive/247Sports and has also worked at ESPN, Scout.com and the Austin American-Statesman.