PBR Iron Cowboy 2017 Preview


By: Jordan Hebert February 15, 2017@ 03:16:00 PM



  • AT&T Stadium will host the Frontier Communications Iron Cowboy, the second PBR Major of the 2017 season.
  • Shane Proctor, last year's winner, will look to defend his title against 39 other riders looking to claim the extra world standings points and $100,000 prize.
  • Following Iron Cowboy, AT&T Stadium will host RFD TV's THE AMERICAN to bookend the richest weekend in Western sports.



ARLINGTON, Texas – AT&T Stadium, the largest stadium in the National Football League and home of the Dallas Cowboys, will host the PBR’s (Professional Bull Riders) Frontier Communications Iron Cowboy for the eighth consecutive year this Saturday, Feb. 18.

Iron Cowboy will be the second PBR Major of the 2017 Built Ford Tough Series (BFTS). PBR Majors are the highest profile events on the BFTS, presenting unique formats, increased prize money and world standings points and all televised on the CBS Television Network.

For one night only, Feb. 18, the Top-40 stars of the PBR will try to conquer the rankest bulls in the world, in an effort to make the 8-second buzzer and advance. In the special Iron Cowboy elimination format, riders who stay on their bull for the required 8 seconds advance to the next round. Those bucked off are finished. The cowboys will continue to ride until all but one is left and is declared the Iron Cowboy.

The Iron Cowboy event winner will receive a total of $100,000, including $50,000 from Bad Boy Mowers as part of the Bad Boy Mowers Major Bonus Program, providing $200,000 over the course of the four PBR Majors this season.

In 2016, before 35,000 cheering fans at AT&T Stadium, Shane Proctor won the Iron Cowboy event title. He took home $115,625 in winnings and earned 885 world standings points to leap from No. 8 to the No. 1 position in the PBR world standings.

"We are thrilled to bring The Frontier Communications Iron Cowboy, one of the PBR’s Majors and among the season’s most anticipated events, back to Arlington for our eighth year,” PBR CEO Sean Gleason said. “There’s no better venue in the world than AT&T Stadium in the heart of Texas to cheer on the new Iron Cowboy, all our riders, and the sport's rankest bulls."

This season, PBR’s Young Guns, including 19-year-old Jess Lockwood and 20-year-old Derek Kolbaba are off to a very fast start, winning three of the first six BFTS events. Lockwood who opened 2017 by winning in PBR’s first Major in New York and then again in Sacramento, California, remains at No. 1 in the world, leading Rubens Barbosa, who finished seventh in Kansas City, Missouri, last weekend, by 385 points. 

2016 PBR World Champion Cooper Davis, 22, from Jasper, Texas, rode all three bulls last week in Kansas City and is now fifth in the world standings.

On Sunday, Feb. 19, the day following the Iron Cowboy, THE AMERICAN returns to round out the “richest weekend in Western sports.” The largest single-day cash prize rodeo in history, THE AMERICAN offers a total purse of $2 million, with $1 million divided among any qualifiers who win their respective events. THE AMERICAN bull riding event will include the Top 10 bull riders in the PBR world standings after the 2016 PBR World Finals, five qualifiers and one exemption each competing for $125,000 in prize money.

Tickets for the Iron Cowboy are on sale and range in price from $20 to $152. They can be purchased at the AT&T Stadium Box Office and Ticketmaster.com or by phone at (800) 745-3000.

For an enhanced PBR experience to the Iron Cowboy, fans can now purchase PBR Elite Seats, which provide a behind-the-scenes look into the toughest sport on dirt. This once-in-a-lifetime experience includes early entry; tickets to a premium seating section; a catered reception; a 60-minute, backstage tour by a PBR Host, featuring a PBR 101 presentation and visit with the sport’s fiercest bulls; and the opportunity for photos and autographs from the top PBR stars. After the event, PBR Elite Seat ticketholders also will be given premium dirt access, where they can get their complimentary 8 Seconds PBR program, Elite Seat lanyard and other memorabilia autographed by the Top 35 bull riders in the world. PBR Elite Seats are available for $500 and also can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

With the best Western sports athletes in the world converging on AT&T Stadium to compete in the Iron Cowboy and THE AMERICAN, Feb. 18-19 will be a weekend showcasing some of the most talented, toughest and grittiest cowboys Texas has ever seen.

For more information on the PBR Iron Cowboy and THE AMERICAN, visit www.pbr.com.

The BFTS is televised every week on CBS, CBS Sports Network and networks around the world. BFTS telecasts are produced for the PBR under a multi-year agreement with David Neal Productions, a Los Angeles-based production company led by 34-time Emmy® Award winner and Peabody Award winner David Neal, who serves as executive producer.


By: Slade Long February 17, 2017@ 05:13:00 PM


Pearl Harbor highlights the rank pen that awaits the riders who make it past Round 1. Photo: Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com


  • Iron Cowboy is one of, if not the best, single event when it comes to showcasing pure bull power.
  • Many of the bulls in Round 1 are regulars in the championship round, meaning the riders will face a stiff challenge right off the bat.
  • Those who make it past Round 1, though, will face the likes of Pearl Harbor and reigning World Champion Bull SweetPro's Bruiser.



ARLINGTON, Texas – The Iron Cowboy in Arlington, Texas, is the second of four PBR Major events this year, and this particular event should not be missed if you like seeing the best bulls in the world.

Arlington is typically one of the best if not the single best event each year for overall bull power. It’s better than the Built Ford Tough World Finals in many years because there usually only 50-70 outs here, and PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert doesn’t have to reach any deeper than the best 50-70 bulls he can find to fill the pens. By comparison the World Finals uses twice as many bulls, and it’s fair to say that Arlington essentially features the top half of what you will see at the World Finals.

The competition format here is set up so that 40 riders are entered, they all get on in Round 1, and whoever stays on advances. In each subsequent round, the riders who stay on advance, until one man is left or the maximum of five rounds has played out.

At a standard Built Ford Tough Series event, the long round bulls are more or less similar in quality, and the short round bulls are a step up, but there are only 15 of them. Here, Round 1 is the closest thing we will see to a normal BFTS long round, except most the bulls drawn in Round 1 are usually short rounders most of the time.

All rounds past Round 1 will draw bulls as needed out of a numbered pool of animals. The Top 5 animals in this pool are Pearl HarborSweetPro’s BruiserSweetPro’s Long JohnSmooth Operator, and Jared Allen’s Air Time. The pool is 38 animals deep, and they are ranked from the top down as Lambert sees it. The top bulls on the list will be the first bulls drawn in Round 2, and that means the second round will knock any pretenders out of this competition. The pen of bulls starts strong and immediately jumps to the strongest it can be. Riders who survive Round 2 will find it somewhat smoother going in Round 3 and beyond.

Some of the bulls already set for Round 1 include Walk OffMagic TrainRodeo TimeKookaburraCooper Tire’s Brown Sugar, and Lifting Lives- all bulls we usually see in short rounds.

Round 2 starts with Pearl Harbor and the rest of the Top 5 mentioned above, and will include Gangster’s WildsideStone SoberHey JackSeven DustTLW’s Big CatBrutusJack ShotSpotted DemonMystical, and the list goes on. Depending on how the competition plays out, it’s likely the bulls near the bottom of the pool won’t be used, but that’s the way it is with this format. You can count on the bulls you do see being world class from top to bottom.

© 2017 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.



By: Justin Felisko February 16, 2017@ 11:20:00 PM



Derek Kolbaba took one step closer toward a shot at $1 million Thursday night. Photo: Justin Felisko


  • Derek Kolbaba took a huge step toward earning a shot at $1 million at Sunday's RFD TV's THE AMERICAN.
  • Kolbaba rode Udder Lover for 90 points to win Thursday's semifinal round and put himself in prime position to qualify as a wild card.
  • 10 riders advanced to Friday's semifinal round where a ticket to AT&T Stadium will be on the line.



FORT WORTH, Texas – Derek Kolbaba is in the driver’s seat at earning a shot at competing for $1 million on Sunday afternoon at RFD-TV’s THE AMERICAN.  

The No. 8 bull rider in the PBR world standings won the Thursday night bull riding at THE AMERICAN Semi-Finals with a 90-point ride on Udder Loverinside the historic Cowtown Coliseum.

“I knew what I had,” Kolbaba said. “I knew if I kept moving forward and kind of moving my outside foot that would keep me out of that well. He bucked me off before last year and they actually switched deliveries on him so I was a little mixed up there, but, shoot, it worked out great right there into my hand.”

Kolbaba is only the second rider in 34 outs at all levels of competition to make 8 seconds on Udder Lover.

Udder Lover previously bucked Kolbaba off last year in 4.06 seconds in Oklahoma City, but the stakes were by no means as high as they were on Thursday night.

The 20-year-old had to ride the bull if he wanted to have any shot at competing for his share of $1 million inside AT&T Stadium at THE AMERICAN.

“I mean I didn’t pay $1,000 to come here and fall off,” Kolbaba said. “You come here expecting to win and to get your bulls rode. I just need to keep it rolling for tomorrow.

At the conclusion of THE AMERICAN Semi-Finals Friday night, the Top-5 bull riders in the event average will advance to THE AMERICAN on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium.

The five bull riding qualifiers from the Semi-Finals will be eligible to win a share of the $1 million bonus that is offered to any qualifier who potentially wins one of the seven rodeo events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling and bull riding the day after the PBR’s Iron Cowboy.

“Any time you are 90 it is a great feeling and it boosts your confidence, but, at this event, it is more so just getting them rode,” Kolbaba said. “Whether you are in the middle of them or upside down, you just have to grit it out.”

10 riders advanced to the Friday night finale of the Semi-Finals.

Claudio Montahna Jr. (88 points on Reckless), 2015 PBR Brazil champion Luciano de Castro (86.25 points on All Aboard), Trey Benton (85.5 points on Bio Graphic) and Jake Gowdy (80.75 points on Hurricane Hustler) were the riders advancing on Thursday night.

They joined Cole Melancon (86.75 points), Sevi Torturo (86.5 points), Luke Haught (85.5 points), Jory Markiss (85.25 points) and Stetson Lawrence(84.25 points) from Wednesday night’s competition.   

“The game plan don’t change,” said Lawrence. “I still need to ride my bull. I am approaching this like AT&T Stadium. It is no different. I have to keep my head straight and ride my bull. I have been riding good so it definitely is a big confidence builder.”

The five bull riding wild cards will compete alongside the Top 10 riders from last year’s PBR World Standings – Cooper DavisKaique Pacheco, two-time World Champion J.B. MauneyRyan DirteaterJoao Ricardo Vieira, 2008 World Champion Guilherme MarchiEduardo AparecidoJess LockwoodFabiano Vieira and 2004 World Champion Mike Lee – that qualified for THE AMERICAN, but are ineligible for the $1 million bonus. 2016 PRCA Champion Sage Kimzey is competing as a fan invite.

Kolbaba couldn’t have asked for a better draw for Friday night either.

The Walla Walla, Washington, bull rider has a rematch against No Dice. Kolbaba rode No Dice for 88.5 points to win the Pendleton, Oregon, Velocity Tour event last September.

“I have to take it one bull at a time and ride for 10 seconds and try my butt off,” he said. “Everything will work out. I have been really trying to focus on keeping things simple and keeping my chin tucked because if you can do that you should be able to stick right with them.”

Kolbaba had bucked off nine in a row since winning the Built Ford Tough Series event in Oklahoma City last month.

He has been spending the week with Lockwood at PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert’s ranch in Bowie, Texas.

Kolbaba jumped up on the back of the bucking chutes following his ride and aggressively slapped Lockwood’s hand in celebration.

“I expect Derek to ride every time he nods his head, just like I expect of myself and he expects of me,” Lockwood said. “We both are handling the pressure really well and doing really good with it. I think we both have matured.”

Both riders will be competing in Saturday night’s Frontier Communication’s Iron Cowboy, presented by Kawasaki.

Neither rider has ever competed inside AT&T Stadium – the massive home of the Dallas Cowboys.

“I wouldn’t really say there will be nerves,” Kolbaba said. “I would say excited. When it comes down to it, I kind of block all of the stands out. It is a great pen we are starting out with and the second round is the rank pen.

If all goes his way on Friday night at THE AMERICAN Semi-Finals, Kolbaba will be riding alongside his pal Lockwood at THE AMERICAN 24 hours after competing at Iron Cowboy.

Kolbaba then will have the opportunity to ride for the coveted $1 million.

“I know my bank account would be looking pretty good, for sure,” Kolbaba said. “It is exciting. It is cool to see where the event has gone and how everything is progressing in the right way.

“This is a big weekend for bull riding and rodeo.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko


© 2017 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.


By: Justin Felisko February 17, 2017@ 01:30:00 PM


Cody Teel earned a trip to Iron Cowboy with a Velocity Tour victory. Photo: Christopher Thompson / BullStockMedia.com.


  • 2012 PRCA champion Cody Teel is making his Built Ford Tough Series debut at Iron Cowboy.
  • Teel earned a trip to AT&T Stadium courtesy of a Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour victory.
  • The 24-year-old has won the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo event average two times.



ARLINGTON, Texas – 2012 PRCA Champion Cody Teel walked into AT&T Stadium five months ago for the Texas A&M-Arkansas college football game and he immediately got chills down the back of his spine.

Teel looked around at 60,000-plus fans inside the home of the Dallas Cowboys and he knew there was no question he wanted to one day ride bulls at the house that Jerry Jones built.

The 24-year-old just didn’t think it would happen this year.

Teel is set to make his Built Ford Tough Series debut on Saturday night at the Frontier Communication’s Iron Cowboy, presented by Kawasaki.

Fans can watch the conclusion of Iron Cowboy exclusively on CBS national television Sunday at noon ET.

It has been less than a month since Teel made his 2017 PBR debut and all he needed was two Real Time Pain Relief Velocity Tour events to earn a spot in the draw for the PBR Major event, arguably the biggest on the PBR schedule outside of the World Finals.

“Oh, I am real excited for Saturday,” Teel said Thursday evening. “That was the first time I was in that building. I told myself with the Iron Cowboy I need to ride here one day. I didn’t think it would be this year because I was getting a late start going to them, but it worked out that way.

“Shoot, I am really pumped to get to go in there and compete for that type of money on great bulls.”

Teel earned one of five Velocity Tour event exemptions for Iron Cowboy by winning his season-debut in Roanoke, Virginia.

The Kountze, Texas, bull rider went a perfect 3-for-3 in his first PBR event on American soil since 2010.

He then placed third at the Velocity Tour event in Reno, Nevada, the following week.

“It is not like I feel like I am doing anything that is mind-blowing,” Teel said. “I had three great bulls and three opportunities to do good, and I was able to take advantage of it. That is a big part of it. Take advantage of the opportunities when you get them and I was able to do it. I am not dwelling on the win there. You have to keep moving forward, especially when you go into an event like Iron Cowboy. It is the best bulls and the best guys, you have to keep moving forward.

“It is a new day. You have to prove yourself every day in this.”

Teel got a late start on 2017 after breaking his clavicle at the 2016 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo two months ago. According to Teel, Dr. Tandy Freeman used six screws and a plate to surgically repair his clavicle on Dec. 14.

2016 was Teel’s fifth consecutive NFR qualification and he has ridden 53-percent or more of his bulls in five consecutive seasons, according to ProBullStats.

Teel said the time has finally come where he is ready to focus on the PBR full time and put rodeo on the backburner until possibly the summer.

“It was one of those deals I knew it was time and something I wanted to do,” Teel said. “More so as a competitor. It really has me feeling feelings I haven’t felt in long time since I started riding bulls. I love that part of it. That nervous, anxious feeling and learning how to control it and trying to rise to the top in every big moment. That is bull riding. That is what makes it fun.”

He then continued, “You get that feeling. That is something I wasn’t getting last year. Not that it wasn’t challenging. It wasn’t like I was just dominating and I was bored. It wasn’t that at all. It was a matter of the feeling and being viewed as one of the best. That is what I want to accomplish coming over here.”

Teel has won two NFR event average (2013 & 2015) titles at the Thomas & Mack Center in Las Vegas, and he has come through in marque moments before.

“He is going to do great,” said 2016 NFR bull riding winner and PBR veteran Shane Proctor. “It may take a little bit of a learning period, but from there he is going to do good. He just stays real consistent. He rides really good away from his hand and moves over there. He will do really well at this level. The kid has a lot of talent.”

Two-time World Champion Justin McBride said, “I watched him only in the NFR. That is the only rodeoing I get to see every year. He looks like he has some ability. It is always you never know how they are going to hold up. They have never faced this type of bull week in and week out. That is always the challenge. You don’t know how they are going to respond to it until you see them out, but I know he is a kid that can really ride.”

Teel won the 2016 Calgary Stampede while competing against a series of PBR cowboys such as two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney and 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis.

“In the back of my mind, I knew I was going to go to the PBR one day,” Teel said. “It just got really pushed to the front last year. I was ready to take on that wall. Doing what I was doing, I knew I wanted to do something different. I went to Calgary and had that experience around J.B. Mauney and all the top PBR guys. It was a really cool experience to be around that type of atmosphere in the locker room.”

Teel has drawn Chute Boss (0-2, BFTS) for Round 1 of Iron Cowboy.

He knows there will be some jitters this weekend.

“Absolutely,” Teel said. “Those jitters fuel the fire. As a competitor, I feed off that. Our nervous, anxious feelings. When you can go into something with that kind of feeling and come out and pull through, and do your job like you are supposed to do, there is no feeling in the world like it.”

Teel was previously offered a BFTS exemption in 2014 alongside J.W. Harris and Sage Kimzey, but was unable to accept because of a broken ankle.

His father, Robbie, was a professional bull rider in the PRCA in the 1980s.

Cody won the 2011 College National Finals Rodeo and is also a two-time Texas High School State Champion.

Teel grew up about an hour from Davis, who he roomed with in Calgary, and the two competed against each other in high school rodeos.

“We rodeoed in the same region in high school. He graduated my sophomore year and I was happy because I finally had a shot,” Davis joked. “Cody is not really flashy, but it is probably going to happen when he nods his head. I don’t see that guy fall off many. I don’t think there is a whole lot of transition period where you see him fall off.

“He is going to come here and do what Cody Teel does.”

Teel agreed he isn’t the flashiest rider.

The job is simple for the 5-foot-11-inch bull rider: Just make the whistle.

“I am not real stylish,” Teel said. “I am kind of a taller guy. My memo is get the job done 8 seconds at a time. That is the way I like to go at it. Just let the consistency pay off in the end.”

Teel is currently 39th in the world standings, but he is only 10 points away from cracking the Top 35 and competing next weekend in St. Louis.

Tuff Hedeman is the only bull rider with a PRCA and PBR gold buckle on his resume.

“That is on the list of goals, but right now I need to get on tour and get to the Finals,” Teel said. “Then maybe I could go for Rookie of the Year. That is the first step and we will go from there.

“I know what I am capable of. I have my goals set. It is one of those deals, no matter how long it takes or what it takes I want to accomplish my goals.”

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko


© 2017 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.



By: Justin Felisko February 15, 2017@ 04:34:00 PM

Stetson Lawrence is 3-for-7 in events held at AT&T Stadium, including two second place finishes. Photo: Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com


  • Stetson Lawrence has had $1 million slip away from him in AT&T Stadium after two last-second buckoffs.
  • Though his luck has not been the best in Texas, Lawrence has chosen not to dwell and arrived in the Dallas metroplex ready to try again.
  • Lawrence will look to qualify for Sunday's RFD TV's THE AMERICAN this week before riding in the Iron Cowboy on Saturday.



PUEBLO, Colo. – Stetson Lawrence knows he can’t think about what could have been when he steps inside AT&T Stadium on Saturday night for the Frontier Communication’s Iron Cowboy, presented by Kawasaki.

With $100,000 up for grabs, Lawrence knows he can’t dwell on the past.

Still, one can’t blame for Lawrence for having some nightmarish flashbacks when he does get his rope ready for Round 1 of the PBR Major at 6:50 p.m. ET.

In 2015, Lawrence nearly won over $1 million in Arlington, Texas.

Lawrence finished second at the 2015 Iron Cowboy after bucking off Magic Train in 2.57 seconds during the final round of competition that paid out nearly $200,000 to winner Joao Ricardo Vieira.

Lawrence then bucked off Stone Sober in 7.73 seconds the following day during RFD-TV’s THE AMERICAN rodeo. At the time, Lawrence was a wild card invite and a ride would have advanced him to the Final 4 Shoot Out Round, where he would have been eligible to win a share of the $1 million prize offered to qualifiers.

“Two years ago, I went in as a qualifier for THE AMERICAN and got on Stone Sober and rode him for 7 seconds,” Lawrence recalled this past weekend in Kansas City, Missouri. “He shot out and didn’t want to go left anymore and I was still going left.”

Lawrence had a near déjà vu moment a year later.

He wasn’t eligible for the 2016 $1 million qualifier purse, but Lawrence almost won THE AMERICAN bull riding and $100,000 last year before another costly 7-second buckoff.

The Williston, North Dakota, bull rider had advanced to the Shoot Out Round with an 85-point bull ride on Footloose, but then bucked off Good Time Charlie at 7.44 seconds.

“If I could go back to that day, I could ride that bull every day,” Lawrence said. “It is in the past. It is over with. I was two tenths away from $100,000 last year, and that year before I had a chance at the $1 million and I fell off Stone Sober.”

Lawrence is hoping the third time is the charm this weekend.

The 28-year-old will be competing at his third Iron Cowboy on Saturday night, but Lawrence is already in Texas this week competing at The AMERICAN Semi-Finals in Fort Worth with the hopes of earning a wild card spot at THE AMERICAN.

The five bull riding wild cards will be eligible to win a share of the $1 million bonus that is offered to any qualifier who potentially wins one of the seven rodeo events – bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, team roping, tie-down roping, barrel racing, steer wrestling and bull riding the day after the PBR’s Iron Cowboy.

Lawrence advanced out of the slack bull riding round Wednesday morning with an 81.5-point ride.

“I have been in those situations with all of that money and the best thing to do is not worry about it until it is in your pocket because there is no sense in thinking about it unless it is in your hand,” Lawrence said.

There were 18 riders advancing out of the slack.

Other noteworthy riders advancing included J.W. Harris (87), Luciano de Castro (87), Claudio Montanha Jr. (86.5), Cody Campbell (85.75 points), Silvano Alves (83.25 points), Cody Teel (74), Derek Kolbaba (66) and Jake Gowdy (57).

Nine of the 18 riders will compete on Wednesday night and the other nine on Thursday at Cowtown Coliseum. Any rider that makes a qualified ride will then ride one more bull on Friday night. The Top 5 in the event average, not including slack results, will advance to THE AMERICAN as bull riding qualifiers.

The five bull riding wild cards will compete alongside the Top 10 riders from last year’s PBR World Standings – Cooper DavisKaique Pacheco, two-time World Champion J.B. MauneyRyan DirteaterJoao Ricardo Vieira, 2008 World Champion Guilherme MarchiEduardo AparecidoJess LockwoodFabiano Vieira and 2004 World Champion Mike Lee – that qualified for THE AMERICAN, but are ineligible for the $1 million bonus.

“That is about the only cool thing about not being in the Top 10 (of the PBR world standings) last year,” Lawrence said. “The only way to secure your spot is ride your bull and make it happen.”

Lawrence is only 5-for-20 (25 percent) this season, but he arrived in Texas fresh off a 10th-place finish in Kansas City and a sixth-place showing in Anaheim, California.

“I started off a little rough, but I have turned it around now and am feeling good,” Lawrence said. “The main thing is I am healthy. I am just staying focused and not letting the lows bring you down. Nothing strenuous.”

Lawrence is 3-for-7 at all competitions in AT&T Stadium with two second-place finishes.

He also finished second at the 2015 Last Cowboy Standing, which is the same format as Iron Cowboy.

“I wouldn’t say it is (more) confidence, but I just know there is so much at stake,” Lawrence said. “I just try a little harder, which is sad to say. I just like the adrenaline rush of big events.”

Iron Cowboy and THE AMERICAN combine for the Richest Weekend in Western Sports and Lawrence said there is no way to accurately describe the raucous environment of both events being held in such a famed NFL stadium.

“I couldn’t even tell you,” he said. “It gives you chills down your spine, especially when you make a good ride at the Iron Cowboy and THE AMERICAN.”

Therefore, will his third trip to AT&T Stadium finally pay off?

“Yeah, we are banking on that,” he concluded. 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

© 2017 PBR Inc. All rights reserved.


By: Justin Felisko February 16, 2017@ 02:18:00 PM

Joao Ricardo Vieira has won over $350,000 in AT&T Stadium. Photo: Andy Watson / BullStockMedia.com


  • Joao Ricardo Vieira has excelled at AT&T Stadium since making the jump to the United States. 
  • As a two-time Iron Cowboy winner and the defending bull riding champion at THE AMERICAN, it would be easy to assume that the home of the Dallas Cowboys is his second home as well.
  • But it turns out that it's a little steakhouse that reminds him of home that really excites the veteran Brazilian.



DALLAS – It has been five years since Joao Ricardo Vieira left his native Brazil and came to the United States in search of bull riding eternity with $15,000.

These days, Vieira calls Decatur, Texas, home and there is no secret that the two-time Iron Cowboy champion and 2016 bull riding champion at THE AMERICAN rodeo has etched his name into the record books for his success on one of the biggest stages in all of Western sports.

However, even though Vieira has over $350,000 reasons to love the home of the Dallas Cowboys, the 32-year-old actually has a special affection for a small Brazilian steakhouse 20 miles west of AT&T Stadium in Fort Worth.

Vieira and his wife, Rosimara, and daughter, Maria Clara, will often make the 45-minute drive from Decatur to Rafain’s Steakhouse for a nice dinner.

Outside of AT&T Stadium, the Brazilian steakhouse is Vieira’s favorite place in the Dallas metro area.

In a state that is well known for its barbeque, Vieira likes to trade in the Texas dry rub and barbeque sauce for a traditional Churrasco barbeque with salt-seasoned ribeyes, ribs and chicken variations.

It is almost a taste of home for the Itatiba, Brazil, native.

“I like barbeques in Dallas,” Vieira said with a big smile. “They have good barbeque. My favorite is Rafain’s. It is 40 minutes from my house. In Brazil, it is a fire and you barbeque on (charcoal) stones. There is no propane. Brazilian barbeque is just salt. No sauce. It is so good. No pepper. Just salt. I like Ribs, chicken, ribeye’s. My favorite is ribeye.”

Churrascaria-style restaurants are extremely popular in Brazil. Waiters move around the restaurant with skewers of grilled meat, offering as much as one can eat.

Vieira easily can afford as much ribeye as his heart desires these days, but he would love to head back to Rafain’s to celebrate a third Iron Cowboy title next week.

Vieira won back-to-back Iron Cowboy titles in 2014-15, and last year he finished runner-up to Shane Proctor. To make up for his failure at winning a third consecutive Iron Cowboy, Vieira did the next best thing by winning the $100,000 bull riding event at THE AMERICAN last year.


“I am excited because I like this place,” Vieira said. “I stay at home and it is near home. I think I have good luck in the arena. The arena likes me too, I think. I really don’t know. I am focused the same at all of the events, but I feel strong in the arena. It is my favorite. It is a big arena. It is beautiful. I get to ride good bulls and get good money.”

Vieira’s quest at winning a second consecutive AMERICAN bull riding title will occur on Sunday afternoon at AT&T Stadium, but Vieira first has his sights set on Saturday night’s Iron Cowboy.

Fans can watch the conclusion of the Frontier Communications Iron Cowboy, presented by Kawasaki, on CBS national television Sunday at noon ET.

No rider has ever won Iron Cowboy and THE AMERICAN in the same weekend.

“It would be very special for my life as a cowboy,” Vieira said. “It is a big event in Texas. All of the people see this. It is very important to all of the cowboys to win Iron Cowboy or The AMERICAN. It is a good event.”

Vieira has drawn Lost Soul for Round 1. Lost Soul bucked off Vieira last year in 3.58 seconds at the Little Rock, Arkansas, Built Ford Tough Series event.

He is currently 19th in the world standings and trails world leader Jess Lockwood by 1,347.5 points.

Vieira is 9-for-21 (42.86 percent) this season.

However, Vieira has started slow before.

Vieira was ranked 26th in the world standings before he won the 2015 Iron Cowboy title, while he entered the 2014 and 2016 events sitting in third place.

“I think this year can be the same,” Vieira said. “I need to ride bulls at AT&T Stadium. I think this is the start of the season. Iron Cowboy is more important because after is the start of the season. I need to get points for the fight for the World Championship.”

When he says new season, Vieira is referencing how riders from last year’s Top 30 will only have one more guaranteed event before being subjected to the BFTS cutline following this weekend. Once eight BFTS events are officially in the books, all draws for the season will be based upon the 2017 world standings.

Therefore, Vieira looks at the middle of February as an important time of year to really make sure he is clicking on all cylinders. It is one point in the season where the world standings start to take shape and World Champion contenders start to try and position themselves for a run at the $1 million title.

Then, of course, there is the fact that Iron Cowboy is a PBR Major with one rider being able to walk away with a maximum of 1,250 points toward the world standings and a minimum payday of $100,000.

Vieira has finished inside the Top 5 of the world standings every year of his career. The fifth-year veteran has won almost everything possible in his career outside of a World Championship or World Finals title. 

“I am happy for all of the years I tried my best,” Vieira said. “I focused during the season. I am no World Champion. I have not won the World Finals, but all the time I am trying my best. I am focused and putting in hard work.

“My goal this year is Top 3 in the world,” Vieira concluded. “I want to win the World Championship, but I fight to be victorious in the Top 3. That would be good too.” 

Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko

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