ANAHEIM, Calif. – J.B. Mauney remembers his dad, Tim, always telling him that if he was going to be a bear, he better be a grizzly bear.
Well, that is exactly the mindset the 2013 World Champion is trying to ride with this season as he continues to deal with a left groin injury and a potentially cracked pelvis.
Mauney gritted his teeth, bit down on his mouth guard and nodded his head on Friday night at the Honda Center with no hesitation to pick up 85 points on Woody in Round 1 of the Anaheim Invitational.
Once again, the Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy pounced off the dirt following his dismount and jumped back on top of the bucking chute before grimacing and grabbing toward his groin.
“I am doing alright,” Mauney said after the ride. “It wasn’t bad when I was riding, but on my wonderful dismount, I hit like a pile of crap. The only time I would like to really land on my head and I land on my butt.”
Mauney has offered that same painful look on his face every week since sustaining the injury in New York during the 15/15 Bucking Battle when Crack the Whip hit him with his horn following Mauney’s 89-point ride.
He has officially been listed by Dr. Tandy Freeman as competing with a bruised left groin and pelvis injury, but that is partially because Mauney has refused to get X-rays for the time being.
Mauney originally thought about getting X-rays on his pelvis this past week in North Carolina to determine the severity of his the injury, but instead decided against it.
“No, I figured give it this weekend,” Mauney replied when asked if he got X-rays. “I will go get X-rays this week if it is still hurting pretty bad. It is just hard for me because when I am walking around at home it don’t hurt that bad. It is just when I am riding it hurts. I guess spreading it all apart is when it really hurts.”
According to Freeman, the fact that Mauney is still so sore and tender three weeks after first sustaining the direct blow to his groin may be a sign that there is an additional injury.
“At this point, where he hurts is where the tendon attaches to the bone,” Freeman said. “Whether it is the bone or the tendon we don’t know. Until we have an X-ray we can’t say it is not the bone. He got a horn to his inner thigh in New York and had a big bruise there. It all looked like soft tissue and he showed up at the next event and was pretty tender up on his pelvis. We are not sure if that is a bony reaction to what happen or if he has a crack there.”
Mauney also rather not get X-rays because he doesn’t want to have to sit out for a significant amount of time.
“(Tandy) even asked me if I got the X-rays and they came back (positive) would I take the time and let it heal. I said, ‘Well, how long are we talking?’ He said, ‘At least a month or more.’ So I said, ‘Probably not.’”
It also doesn’t help that Mauney is off to a fast start through the first month of the season. The bull rider currently ranked fourth in the world is 6-for-10 since sustaining the injury in New York. He has a BFTS riding average of 58.82 percent this season and is second on the BFTS with three round wins.
Then there is the toughness factor. No one in the locker room questions Mauney’s toughness, and he rides with the mentality that he is going to try and get on to nod his head no matter what.
Regardless, it doesn’t mean he hasn’t thought about taking some time off.
“Yeah it does,” Mauney said. “It just depends on how bad it is hurting. You don’t want to feel like a wusse. I don’t know. It is kind of a fine line. If I can walk around, I should be able to ride.”
Three-time World Champion Silvano Alves has had the good fortune of being able to avoid significant injuries in his six-year career and is continuously impressed by Mauney’s toughness and ability to fight through pain.
“He is very, very tough” Alves said. “He is very, very cowboy because his groin is no good. Most bull riders can’t ride with that. It can affect some riders for two to four months and J.B. is very tough. He is one of the best bull riders in the world and a World Champion.”
Mauney, who understands that he will likely need a hip replacement once he retires from the sport, competed in a career-low 22 BFTS events last season due to a riding hand injury in the first half and a lower back/hip injury for most of the second half.
He said the difference so far this year is that he is feeling better during the week. Last year, his back would hurt while he stood, sat, sleep and basically during any kind of movement.
There are seven consecutive upcoming BFTS events before the first weekend off on the schedule.
For now, all Mauney is going to do is take it one bull and one day at a time.
“I am going to try and go as long as I can,” he said. “If it starts getting real bad, then I will take the time off that I got to. If I can still ride and get along alright, I am going to keep showing up.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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