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Heroes and Legends Honored at 2015 World Finals

LAS VEGAS – One is a retired bull rider and the other is a stock contractor, but both Luke Snyder and Jeff Robinson walked out of the South Point Hotel Casino and Spa on Tuesday night following the “proudest moment” of their careers.

Snyder didn’t wait more than five seconds before he was slipping his PBR Ring of Honor ring onto his right hand once he was introduced to the crowd by fellow Ring of Honor inductee Ross Coleman and Dickies Bull Fighter Shorty Gorham.

“Who am I kidding? I am going to put this on right now,” Snyder said to the laughter of the crowd inside the South Point Showroom. “That is so awesome. Holy cow. So cool. I’ll tell you what. This is just the crown jewel of my career.”

Snyder is the 42nd rider inducted into the PBR’s prestigious Ring of Honor.

He was honored during an hour-long 2015 Heroes and Legends Ceremony on Tuesday night alongside Chicken on a Chain (Brand of Honor), Robyn Gaffney (Sharon Shoulders Award) and Brett Hoffman (Jim Shoulders Lifetime Achievement Award)

Snyder’s professional career began in 2001 – the same year in which he won the World Finals event average and the PBR Rookie of the Year title.

Ten years later, he won another $220,000 at the Last Cowboy Standing event in October 2011.

Snyder was notably known for his PBR record of competing in 275 consecutive Built Ford Tough Series events that gave him the nickname Titanium Tough.

He a won a third of his career earnings in his 13-year career in Las Vegas, but he never won a world title.

On Tuesday night, he got the next best thing.

“This is my World Championship,” Snyder said. “This is the gold buckle that always got away. This is the proudest moment of my sports career hands down.”

The Ring of Honor was created in 1996 to recognize those who have had the most profound impact in the PBR. The inductees share a common bond of courage, strength and victory, and they have shown their dedication and support while playing a significant role in helping professional bull riding become what it is today.

Each inductee is presented with a ring featuring the PBR logo along with their name and year they were inducted.

Robinson has accomplished many milestones in his PBR career.

He won four consecutive Stock Contractor of the Year titles from 2010-13 and a World Champion Bull title with Chicken on a Chain in 2007.

The emotions that Robinson had when Chicken on a Chain won his memorable World Championship all came to the forefront on Tuesday when the bovine athlete became the fifth to be given the Brand of Honor.

“When we won bull of the year, that was the greatest achievement at that time of my career,” Robinson said. “I owe all to this bull. This year I thought Stock Contractor of the Year was the greatest thing of my life and I thought the bull of the year was the greatest thing. I am really proud of my kids and really try to do the best I can for them. (Laney) won the barrel racing at the National Junior High Finals. I told a guy this is better than contractor of the year or bull of the year when your kid does something like this. Then this guy here (Cody Lambert) has called me when I won bull of the year and when I won contractor of the year, and he called me on this.

“This is probably the proudest moment I ever had because when you look around there is only five bulls in this. I know they add one of these bulls every year, but he is here forever.”

Chicken on a Chain, who is in Las Vegas this week for appearances during the Built Ford Tough World Finals, finished his career with 130 outs – 80 of which were at Built Ford Tough Series events. He holds a career average of 45 points per out. He’s the only bull in PBR history with more than 100 outs and an average career score of 45 or higher.

He also weighed an astounding 2,100 pounds.

“He had a look and a body size that made him a little scarier than the other bulls,” Lambert said. “He weighed more and looked bigger, but he wasn’t slower. He had the ability to go faster than a bull his size should move. … He was one of the all-time greats and he had all that going for him and he had the coolest name of any bull in his time. Everything just fit.”

“He was the greatest bull of his time and he deserves this award.”

The Heroes & Legends celebration is a night to pay homage and respect to those that have impacted the sport of professional bull riding and the PBR. It is also a reminder of just how much things continue to grow since 20 bull riders decided to invest $1,000 dollars to form the organization 22 years ago.

Like in past years, there were a slew of former PBR legends in attendance.

Some of the past PBR Ring of Honor inductees attending this year’s celebration included nine-time World Champion Ty Murray, 1999 inductee Jerome Robinson, three-time World Champion Adriano Moraes, 2004 inductee Charlie Sampson and Lambert.

“I was looking from over there at my seat and all of my heroes are in here,” Snyder said. “This is everybody that has been somebody in bull riding. I am just fortunate to be around them and ride with some of the founding members because I got in as a young kid.”

Meanwhile, Murray introduced the 2015 Jim Shoulders Lifetime Achievement Award winner Brett Hoffman – a journalist who has covered the PBR since its inception.

Hoffman, who has also covered the PRCA and other rodeo associations in his sports journalism career, brought the crowd to life when he stated, “The PBR World Champion is the World Champion. That is the way it is.”

Previous Sharon Shoulders Award winners Tiffany Davis, Stacey Custer and Leanne Lambert accepted the Sharon Shoulders Award on behalf of Robyn Gaffney, who was unable to attend.

Some of the Top 35 riders in the world competing at this year’s Finals attended the Heroes and Legends Celebration, such as world leader J.B. Mauney, Nathan Schaper, J.W. Harris, Ryan Dirteater, 2004 World Champion Mike Lee, Tanner Byrne, Cody Nance, Robson Aragao, Reese Cates, Chase Outlaw, Luis Blanco and Mason Lowe.

“I never got on another bull at any other event than a PBR in my career once I was 18,” Snyder said. “I just knew that is where the best of the best were and that is where I wanted to be. It still is to this day.”

The Raymore, Missouri, bull rider later concluded, “I am just so thankful for the PBR founders for having that dream and allowing a kid like me to live a dream with everyone else.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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