ARLINGTON, Texas – The rumors had been flying for months and the speculation only increased as each PBR legend was unveiled for the PBR’s Ring of Honor: Unfinished Business pay-per-view event in the past two months.
On Friday, J.W. Hart announced the remainder of the field of competitors at AT&T Stadium with 1999 PBR Rookie of the Year and PRCA champion Mike White, 2000 PBR World Finals event average champion Tater Porter and 1992 PRCA champion Cody Custer being named the final legends that will unretired to compete at Hart’s BlueDEF Velocity Tour event on May 30 in Decatur, Texas.
Hart and all three PBR Ring of Honor inductees were on hand for Friday’s press conference in preparation for Saturday’s Choctaw Casino Resort Iron Cowboy, powered by Kawasaki Strong, and Sunday’s RFD-TV’s THE AMERICAN.
“It wasn’t real hard to talk them into it,” said J.W. Hart. “These guys are adrenaline junkies and enjoy the sport.”
White, Porter and Custer join Hart, Ross Coleman, Michael Gaffney, JustinMcBride, and Chris Shivers in the winner-take-all $160,000 challenge where each rider will attempt one bull.
White, Custer and Porter sat down for an exclusive interview with PBR.com following the announcement:
JF: There is still a little over three months remaining until Unfinished Business, but has the reality of it all begun to set in now that the announcement is official?
CUSTER: Yesterday, I was kind of putting a rigging bag together because (my son Brett) has half of my stuff since I quit, so it is a little scattered. It was kind of a gulp moment. This is for real. This is going to happen. It was exciting. I haven’t had that kind of feeling for a long time.
PORTER: I did sit on a bull the other day. I pulled a rope for a TV show down there in Florida, “how to DO florida.” I went through the steps of what it is like to get on a bull and I went through the steps with (the host). To show him exactly what to do, I was actually sitting on a bull. That was pretty exciting. In the back of my mind, I was thinking I am fixing that I have to do this in just a few months. Just to get down there and feel that bull between your knees again like that – it kind of felt like I was making the moves like I was fixing to get on a bull. I did get a little rush going there. It was exciting to me.
JF: Take us back to when J.W. first called. I bet it was quite a surprising phone call to receive?
WHITE: When J.W. first called, he said, ‘Hey, do you want to get on a bull at my bull riding?’ I said, ‘J.W., I have retired for a reason. I am scared now. I don’t want to get on a bull.’ He said, ‘What will it take to get on a bull?’ I said, ‘I can’t even put a price on it. Well, what do you have up your sleeve?’ He told me what he was thinking and I then said, ‘You know what. Put me in. I will do it one more time.’
PORTER: I told him, ‘Hell no,’ at first. Then I go, ‘Well, I hadn’t really thought about it.’ He said what his plan was coming to his event. When I had my event there in Orlando, he was always there. We always have been there for each other. He told me it was for his event and I said, ‘Yeah, let me think about it.’
I watch bull riding a lot and I will think, ‘Oh, I would like to get on that one.’ I can’t talk shit sitting on the couch.
CUSTER: I got on one of my boy’s practice bulls and J.W. calls me and goes, ‘Well, I have to ask you a question and I don’t really know how to do it.’ I am thinking something bad. I didn’t know what to think.
He said, ‘I saw that video,’ and he told me what was going on. I said, ‘Well, first of all, that bull can kind of fool anybody to thinking they could ride. Let me get on a couple that buck and let me talk to my family and I will let you know.’
JF: And the family’s reaction?
CUSTER: First, I talked to my wife and she probably just rolled her eyes – we were on the phone when I told her. She said, ‘I never said anything to you about your riding, but you need to make sure it is alright with your kids.’
I call my daughter (Lacey) at college and her response was pretty comical. She said, ‘Hell yeah!’
I called my boy (Brett) and he said, ‘Do you need to borrow my stuff?’
JF: I am sure you guys are just as excited for the opportunity to ride in front of your kids, like Cody.
PORTER: That was kind of the reason I retired. I started my family and have three kids now. I kind of thought this would be pretty neat for them to actually go see me. They have seen me on YouTube and video, but to actually be there and experience it with me; none of them have ever done that.
WHITE: Just having the opportunity to have my son (Logan) there and see me ride where he can actually remember is great. I will have him there and he will help me get on. That will be pretty exciting.
I never thought it would happen again. My son rides in the mini-bull deal and I am always coaching him, and he just looks at me like, ‘What do you know?’ It will be cool to have him there helping out and I am looking forward to it.
JF: Where do you stand physically and have you attempted any practice bulls?
WHITE: There is no doubt about it. I am way away from where I was when I retired. I am still in shape, but in this sport, it is a young man’s sport. That is why you don’t see any guys that are 37 or 38 competing. Your body just doesn’t react like it does when you are in your 20s, so from that aspect it is going to be tough. It is like riding a bicycle. You know how to ride a bicycle. You get on their five years later and you go to pedaling and your feet slip off and you hit your shins. It hurts like hell. You know how to do it, but you just can’t do it. That was the same way when I got on one bull in the practice pen. I rode the bull, but he was yanking the crap out of me the whole time. I knew during the ride I had to get up over my rope. I knew it, but I just couldn’t do it. It made it very difficult to ride a bull. It is something that you don’t forget it, but your body isn’t reacting to it. It is going to be tough.
PORTER: No practice bull. Nothing. Voodoo was the last bull I got on. I tipped my hat and walked out of the arena.
I do stay in pretty good shape. Am I in as good of shape as I was in ‘07 when I was riding? Probably not. But as far as being mentally in shape, yes, I feel like I can ride. You train your muscles each and every day you get on the bulls, so there will be new muscles getting stretched and all of that stuff, but I plan on getting on a couple before the bull riding. I don’t want to get on one cold turkey. It is like riding bicycle, but there is still that little bit of adrenaline there that is going to take over.
CUSTER: I got on a couple upper-level, high school-type bulls. It wasn’t very easy, but I rode them. I called J.W. and said, ‘I can still ride.’ It is not as easy as it used to be, so now I am trying to get in shape. I am doing crunches and pushups. I really don’t want to overdo it.
JF: I have asked the other legends this same question. Who is the early favorite?
WHITE: I don’t know. I am going to tell you Chris (Shivers). I don’t know. In my eyes, Chris, Justin and Ross are going to be tough. I wouldn’t bet against none of those three guys.”
PORTER: It can be anybody. I don’t know what the other guys are getting on. I don’t even know any of the bulls. I could have gotten on bulls last week and I still don’t remember. That is how I have always been. I was never one of the guys that kept up with the bulls or what they did. I just show up and put my rope on and let’s go.
CUSTER: Well, if you are talking to me, it has to be me. I don’t know. I tapped Mike White on the stomach and he is probably as hard as this table top, so I have been doing my crunches. There ain’t one guy in there that is not capable of getting it done. It will all shake out. I have a pretty good idea that there is going to be several qualified rides. There is a going to be a high percentage of guys staying on.
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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