Billy Bob Bryant, originally from Glen Rose, Texas, is perhaps the toughest character I have created yet. A star in both pro football and the rodeo circuit, he is known for legendary feats in both. He is responsible for legendary feats that rival those attributed to Chuck Norris and Mr. T. No one can bring him down or intimidate him, no matter what.
But, as I wrote in Chapter 10, he also has a soft side. He saved the life of a teenage girl when he was not yet a man himself. The two would later marry and have a son.
Now, Billy Bob Bryant and Krista Bamburg are both headed for the National Finals Rodeo, next week in Las Vegas, Nevada. They will compete in, respectively, bull riding and barrel racing.
Bryant was at a disadvantage trying to qualify for the NFR because he had only a few months to score enough points in qualifying events during the football off-season. But somehow, he pulled it off. Even though the football season is winding down, and the Texas Defenders are headed back to the playoffs, Bryant still plans to leave the team to compete in the NFR.
According to Billy Bob, "Coach Bubba [McDaniel] has given me permission to go to Vegas for the event. The league final will take place on Dec. 19, and Billy Bob will be back for that if we make it that far. Until then, hopefully we'll win without them." Bryant will play in the opening round against the Bitterroot Banshees this weekend before leaving for Vegas.
While Billy Bob will make his NFR debut, Krista has been there before; in fact, she is the defending champion in barrel racing. The title is based on earnings over 10 rounds of competition, and last year she pocketed over $150,000 during the period.
"Last year was the greatest feeling I have had in my career, but this is even better," says Bamburg, originally from Coushatta, Louisiana. "My husband is with me this year for some support. This is a crucial year as I defend my title in barrel racing, and also for him as he is in the NFR for the first time. We definitely need to support each other."
Television coverage begins at 10 p.m. Eastern time on December 3 on ESPN Classic, with an overnight re-air on ESPN2.