If Ty Murray weren’t a legendary bull riding champion of the world that little kids look up to, he would probably be a legendary super cross champion of the world that little kids look up to.
“I always wanted to do super cross but we didn’t have the time or the extra money for me to ever do it because everything revolved around rodeo. I was busy going to junior rodeos and feeding horses and practicing and all of that,” Murray said. “I was so deep in all that I never really had the chance to do it. I think my body type and brain type would have been great for super cross. It’s comparable to riding bulls.”
Thankfully, Murray was steered toward rodeos and bulls. After many successful 8-second rides, nine world championships, and an induction into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, he and a few other cowboys
brought us the Professional Bull Riders – more commonly known as the PBR.
His mission for the PBR is to make it as mainstream as Monday Night Football. As an announcer and a ride analyst for the broadcasting team of the PBR, he does his best to break down for the masses the techniques of rides, riders, bulls, bull ghters and all the aspects that make an 8-second ride possible.
“Non-rodeo folks don’t have anything to compare bull riding to. Every person grows up playing football and baseball. With NASCAR, everyone drives a car. But in our sport, people don’t have a way to understand or appreciate what they are seeing,” Murray said.
Although, there is a long way to go for the PBR in the mainstream sports landscape it still has an incredible following. According to an ESPN sports poll, there are 82.5 million PBR fans in the U.S., not including fans of PBR Australia, PBR Brazil, PBR Mexico and PBR Canada. One of the highest attended PBR events is the 3-day showdown held in the middle of Manhattan at Madison Square Garden – one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world. CBS TV reports an audience of 1.2 million fans. On various Sundays, the PBR has been known to draw a larger audience than PGA Golf, US Open Tennis, and NASCAR. Among all major sports, PBR is one of the fastest growing social platforms and is a leader in social engagement.
“I feel it’s part of my mission to help people see and understand what they are watching, how much time and e ort and repetition and training and toughness goes into what these guys are doing. People are starting to see what goes into our sport. It’s not just
crazy guys holding on for dear life,” Murray said. “People are seeing what makes up this sport and its athletes. From the mental, physical and the brave aspect to the coordination, body control, pound for pound strength, in every aspect, these guys are athletes.”
Murray, a resident of Stephenville, Texas, is very clear about his day job.
“My job is NOT being a rodeo announcer; my job is to be an analyst. It’s a hard job. It’s not natural to talk about anything that much,” Murray said. “But that’s whatthejobisandItrytobeashonestasIcanbe.”
Nor does Murray intend to be a bull riding coach.
“When you are talking about bull riding you are talking about a game that is so mental, guys have millions of things that are running through their head because it’s such a dangerous game,” Murray said. “I think there is a real art to being a coach. What might work for one guy may not work for the other guy. I’m hesitant to pass out information to most guys. But when they come to me, I try to tell them how it looks to me. Even in that, I try to keep it simple.”
Part of what Murray tries to convey when he talks about the sport is the physical, mental and spiritual aspects it entails.
“It takes a tremendous athlete and man to be able to do this sport at the highest level. Hopefully, though, the PBR is helping to educate the masses. I was lucky. I trained in gymnastics, I trained in wrestling, martial arts, so I learned the proper way to train. I wasn’t trying to bench press 350, I was trying to be light and lean, exible and super quick and super strong core strength,” Murray said. “A quarterback doesn’t train like a linebacker. We want to make sure our guys know and learn that it’s about pound for pound; core strength, fast twitch, exibility, all of these things to where you are doing things that are going to help you.”
The long-term goal is not really about building bodies up. It is actually making sure they do not breakdown.
“I love the sport. I feel that the amount of training I did, helped in the amount of championships I won and I feel it also helped me with my longevity and health.”
MURRAY’S HEROES HAVE ALWAYS BEEN COWBOYS
“Larry Mahan was absolutely my hero as a little boy. He was a guy that I looked up to so much because he was so great in three events.”
Mahan was the rst cowboy to compete in saddle bronc, bareback and bull riding at the National Finals Rodeo.
“I idolized him – everything about him – his grit, his style. He set the benchmark. He made me want to keep coming back when it got tough. When you do this sport you question yourself, how bad do you really want this? It’s hard in a lot of ways. It can be hard physically, mentally and nancially. There has to be something driving you and for me it was Larry Mahan. It was my drive to do better than him. He has become a good friend of mine. He is still a hero of mine. He helped guide me to deal with this sport.”
At present, it’s JB Mauney, the two-time PBR world champion.
“I feel he has the essence. Having the guts, confidence, and the willingness to want to capitalize on really big moments. I feel his attitude and his mental approach has been a big part of what has made him so successful,” Murray said. “You can call it swagger, confidence. I feel that in a sport that is as dangerous as bull riding, you are up against the odds. His, “you are the underdog every time”, I feel that sort of attitude is what makes me a big fan of his.”
Murray is the consummate athlete. Whether it be 8-seconds on a bull or the fastest motorcyclist in the world, nothing would have changed – he’d still be one of the best because he eats, drinks and sleeps his passion and discipline.
“Bull riding is a sport that has engulfed me since I was 2 years old. I was fascinated by it as far back as I can remember. I have put everything into it,” Murray said.
He still does.
Catch the PBR on CBS and CBS Sports Network, online at PBR.com or follow them on Facebook, Twitter and
Instagram. Make sure to check out the World Finals on Nov. 1-5 at T-Mobile Arena in Las Vegas, Nevada.