Ex-Texas DE Tony Brackens Talks Rodeo
Lost Lettermen spoke with former Texas defensive end Tony Brackens as part of a season-long interview series with those who have been involved with the Allstate AFCA Good Works Team.
The 2011 season marks the 20th year of the national award, which honors players who stand out for their commitment to making a difference in their communities. Brackens was a member of the team in 1995.
Brackens (left), 36, played in the NFL with the Jacksonville Jaguars from 1996-2003, after which he retired as the franchise’s all-time sack leader. He made the Pro Bowl in 2000.
Since his retirement, Brackens has sought thrills in the rodeo world. But heading into the Longhorns’ matchup Saturday with high-powered Oklahoma, what are Brackens’ memories of another wild ride – the Red River Rivalry? We have all the answers.
Lost Lettermen: We know that you have competed as a professional cattle wrangler. Are you still involved in rodeo?
TB: Right now, this year, we are putting on a rodeo. This will be our third annual rodeo. This year, we are doing it in conjunction with Freestone County, which is the county that I live in… All the county kids in Freestone County for 2012 (who want to participate) will get to have exhibits (at the rodeo). The objective behind it is that most of the kids will get exhibits. They won’t have to put up the up-front capital to get the exhibits. … The idea is that, the way the economy is now, my brother and I and my other partner, Jason, will help the kids on the front end to get them started and get them involved…
This year we are giving away 10 scholarships. So, hopefully, we can get the community involved and, if we get the community involved, maybe we can branch out into different counties and do things of that nature. It’s something to help the kids, give them responsibility, bonding with animals and learning about things other than just a cat or a dog. Hogs, goats or whatever you can think of as a competition. Just to (teach the kids), bonding and taking care of the exhibit through the years.
LL: That’s great. We didn’t realize the community involvement you had with that. But what is your role in competition? You’re a pretty big guy, so do you actually get up there and ride the animal in how we would picture a rodeo?
TB: I take part in the team roping part of the competition. The heading portion of team roping. … One person ropes the head and one grabs the feet, (inaudible) and brands it. That’s the old-school way of doing things. That’s a timed event as well.
LL: Has rodeo replaced football in your life, providing competition and simulating the thrill of an NFL Sunday or college football Saturday?
TB: Not really. It’s a different type of competition. It’s not something that I look at No. 1 like a job … and No. 2, there is timing and fundamental things that you need as far as sports skill, but it’s a little different. There’s still that adrenaline that you get, especially when it gets down to the final round. Just the adrenaline portion and the camaraderie portion because team roping, obviously, is what it is. It’s not just me by myself. It’s me doing my job, but it’s also what my partner needs in order for him to be successful. So, it still brings up the team aspect of being on a team and competing as a unit instead of just getting on a bull and, if I can ride it, it’s all about me. … But it doesn’t compare to football because that was a job.
LL: Have you been following the Longhorns recently? If so, what do you think of the possible destruction of the Big 12 and the rumors of a move out of the league after Texas A&M announced a move to the SEC?
TB: No real comment on that. I don’t keep up with it that closely. I go back and watch a game or two, but the political side of it I’m not into. That’s just for marketing …
LL: Texas will be taking on one of its current conference rivals, Oklahoma, which is the top-ranked team in the country in the USA Today poll. What do you remember most about playing in the Red River Rivalry?
TB: The fans take it to a whole other level. Out there on the football field, it’s just a football for us. For me, it was a game that we needed to win, but just how the fans get involved in that rivalry (makes it different). The same with A&M. It was amazing to me how the fans would get involved and how rowdy they would get over the game. So, that’s my biggest memory playing in rival games vs. any other games.
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