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Newsom Injury a ‘Reality Check’ for Bullfighters

By: Justin Felisko
January 30, 2016

Frank Newsom at work making a save.

Frank Newsom at work making a save.

ANAHEIM, Calif. – Shorty Gorham and Jesse Byrne and have yet to watch the video of fellow Dickies Bullfighter Frank Newsom getting smoked by JW Hughes Excavation when Newsom stepped in to save Kaique Pacheco in Oklahoma City. Regardless, the reality of the situation still hits home for two of the three PBR bullfighters.

“Man, seeing a hit like that it keeps it real,” Gorham said before Round 1 on Friday night. “There is not many people in this world that can take a shot like that, but you do know that is part of the game.”

Newsom is out for this weekend’s Anaheim Invitational after sustaining a concussion and facial lacerations last week. In a moment that looked like it could have been much worse, Newsom was able to leave the arena under his own power after originally being carried on a backboard to the PBR sports medicine room.

The veteran bullfighter met with Dr. Tandy Freeman on Thursday and learned that he also sustained a slightly-torn MCL, but he is expected to try and return to the arena next weekend in Sacramento, California.

“It definitely is a reality check,” Byrne said. “It is definitely something we are all aware of. Anybody is at risk any time. It hits a little closer to home when it is one of us. I have Frank on such a pedestal for being the toughest guy I can possibly think of, so to see him go down is real. That is something we have to try and deal with in that moment and continue to do our job properly. I was pretty eager to get back there to talk to him and make sure everything is OK.”

Pacheco made sure to go thank Newsom following the Oklahoma City event for stepping in to save him from JW Hughes Excavation.

“I am very frustrated because in helping me he was in an accident,” Pacheco said with Silvano Alves translating. “He is saving my life, but I am frustrated for his life. It is very important right now that he is resting and going to be healthy for next week.”

Gorham said Pacheco has nothing to be frustrated about and said he would have done the exact same thing Newsom did.

The job is simple for the bullfighters: they have to be willing to sacrifice their own body to protect the riders inside the arena.

“We volunteered for this job,” Gorham said. “That deal there. That little bull. He is a smart bull and a mean bull. He has been around for a long time. He feels those guys dismounting him, whether they get bucked off or dismount. He feels them. He knows where they hit. That bull could have kept coming around to the left and went and try and find the rider, but he knew the shortest way to him was if he switched leads and went back to the right. As soon as Frank saw him switch leads, Frank tried to cut across behind him and beat him to the punch.

“There was absolutely nothing Pacheco did there. That is just a smart bull. He beat us that day, but we will kick his ass next time.”

Fellow bullfighter and Newsom prodigy Cody Webster got the call to fill in for Newsom this weekend in Anaheim. When he heard that Newsom had been in a wreck last Sunday, he made sure to get ahold of his mentor as soon as possible.

“Even though still knowing he was fine, when I had seen it, it still made me go upstairs as a bullfighter,” Webster said. “It was a scary deal. The good Lord was watching over him. We are a big family. When someone goes down, whether it is a rider or a fighter, it hits home. It is a real life deal. It tells you real quick just how serious it can be.

“It doesn’t matter how good you are. One day they are going to get you.”

Newsom, now in his 18th season fighting bulls on the Built Ford Tough Series, continues to be one of the toughest men in not just professional bull riding, but all of professional sports.

The 41-year-old continues to bounce back and return to competition after taking vicious hits like the one he took in his home state.

“I don’t think there is anybody out there like Frank,” Byrne said. “He is definitely one of a kind. I don’t know anyone that is on his level of toughness, resilience and drive. It is one thing to take a hit and not think a whole bunch about it. He takes those hits and he is aware of the situation he is putting himself into. The first thing on his mind after taking that hit is getting right back out there. I know he was angry sitting in that sports medicine room not being able to go back into that arena knowing there were still bulls being bucked out there. That is just a testament for Frank’s love of this job.”

Gorham concluded, “It is hard to compare him to anybody in sports because every other sport has a whistle blow when things get to tough. Our military men and women don’t. The toughest of the tough are all in Special Forces.

“I would have to say Frank’s matchup is probably up there.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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