LAS VEGAS – Rodeo cowboys are tougher than most professional athletes.
They ride with sprained knees and damaged shoulders. They get on wild bucking beasts with sore backs and ribs that hurt when they breathe.
Bull rider Wesley Silcox has done that plenty in his 12-year career. There are no guarantees in rodeo, so the only way to make a living is to ride through the pain and hope to beat most of the field to collect prize money.
But Silcox knew better when he woke up Wednesday morning. He had suffered his second concussion in a few days Tuesday night during his ride on Pete Carr Pro Rodeo’s Hokey Pokey during the sixth round of the National Finals Rodeo. He made the decision to sit out the seventh and eighth go-rounds.
“We did some tests on Wednesday morning,” Silcox said, referring to his consultation with Dr. Tandy Freeman of the Justin Sportsmedicine Program. “I wasn’t feeling too good. I was light-headed and dizzy, and I didn’t think I could be capable of riding. So I took two days off and came back feeling good (Friday) and felt like I could ride.”
He rode well, matching moves with United Pro Rodeo’s Wipeout for 83 points. That was good enough for third place in the ninth round, worth $15,654.
“They’ve been 90 on him before,” said Silcox, the 2007 world champion from Santaquin, Utah, now competing at the NFR for the seventh time. “I was just happy to get by him where I’d been hurt. My head felt good, and I felt good.
“You get hit in the head, and later in life, it’s going to catch up with you. I wasn’t going to mess around, so I needed to take two days off.”
He did everything he could to make sure his brain was being cared for in his days away from the arena.
“I took it easy and stayed in the hotel room,” he said. “I ordered room service and just stayed away. I shut my brain down for a little while, and I think it worked.
“I always think it could be worse or something else could happen. There’s a reason for everything.”
Though he’s managed just two qualified rides, Silcox has earned nearly $42,000. He has pushed his 2015 earnings to $157,663 and sits fourth in the world standings with one round left.
“The money is so good this year, and I’ve only stayed on two bulls,” he said. “Still I’ve had a pretty decent finals.”
Oklahoma cowboy Sage Kimzey clinched his second straight world title on Friday night, so Silcox will be riding for the money that’s up for grabs in Saturday’s 10th round. He is matched with Rafter H Rodeo’s Breaking Bad.
“Everybody’s going to have a chance to be 90,” Silcox said. “The bulls are the ones we want to get on. They’re going to ride six to seven bulls easy, and hopefully I’m on top.”