Team players

Highlights

  • Robson Palermo came from the eighth spot on the leaderboard to win the Monster Energy Invitational at Madison Square Garden in New York.
  • Palermo has won the World Finals event the past two years, and three of the past five years.
  • Brazilian riders have won the past three world titles, and four of the past five world titles, including Silvano Alves, who became the first rider in PBR history to win back-to-back titles.
  • Five different Brazilian riders – Adriano Moraes (3), Ednei Caminhas (1), Guilherme Marchi (1); Renato Nunes (1) and Alves (2) – have accounted for eight world titles in the PBR’s first 19 seasons.

In This Article

NEW YORK ― In the past five years, the numbers are staggering.

As a collective group, they've won four of the past five world titles, and just as many World Finals events. Over the past three years, they've claimed three consecutive Rookie-of-the-Year titles.

Last year, they won 11 Built Ford Tough Series events en route to placing seven riders among the Top 10 in the world standings, and eventually recorded the Top 6 finishes at the season-ending World Finals in Las Vegas.

Of course, that group can only be a Brazilian contingent of riders, who have established a five-year dominance that is unparalleled in PBR history, and after this past weekend's event in New York, shows no signs of waning anytime soon.

Among the usual suspects are Silvano Alves, Guilherme Marchi, Valdiron de Oliveira, Renato Nunes, Robson Palermo and Fabiano Vieira. Edevaldo Ferreira, Emilio Resende, Marco Eguchi and Agnaldo Cardozo are also expected to be in the mix this season.

Prior to the Monster Energy Invitational, the CBS Sports Network broadcast team of Sam Gore, Ty Murray and Leah Garcia met with a trio of Top 10 riders ― Austin Meier, Palermo and J.B. Mauney ― and among the topics was: "Why are the Brazilians so much better?"

Murray, whose straight-to-the-point line of questioning rivaled late night talk show host Charlie Rose, prodded each of the three for direct responses to his inquiry.

"You can talk to 1,000 kids and they don't say, 'I want to be a World Champion.' They say, 'I want to ride in the PBR.'… You should strive to be a World Champion."

Friday evening, in a room down the hall from where the rest of the top riders were readying their gear for the first event of the 2013 season, Palermo sat silent as Meier was the first to share his thoughts and insight on the matter.

"I think there are a lot of guys who grew up here who take what we have here for granted," Meier said. "When you have a guy like Robson, and many others, who are coming over here, they're investing their whole future ― their whole life ― into making it over here. It's a pretty good expense, I would think, to come over here and not ride good. I think that's one big part of it."

Murray agreed with Meier.

He added, "They see the opportunity."

Meier's first thoughts mirror a comment made a few years ago by J.W. Hart when he said the Brazilian riders have all earned Ph.Ds in bull riding. It was a humorous, but truthful, way of saying they were "poor, hungry and determined."

Meier then pointed out that by in large, the Brazilian riders ― he specifically name-checked Alves ― have been "smart about drafting bulls."

Although Alves may have been criticized over the past two seasons, Meier added, "If that's the way the game is going to roll, play the game as best you can. And he did two years in a row."

Last October, Alves became the first rider in PBR history to win back-to-back world titles.

More importantly, Meier surmised, "They're just good."

With Palermo quietly listening and nodding in agreement as Meier continued, he then pointed out the advantage of having strength in numbers.

The Brazilians not only work at their craft every day, but they also work together during the week, as well as at the events.

Meier told Murray and the others that he's envious of the fact that any time one of the Brazilians climbs into the bucking chute, several others are always right there to pull his rope, spot him and to offer words of encouragement.

He noted that collectively, there is an overwhelming drive to succeed.

Despite being an individual sport, it's clearly a group effort.

In fact, the bond they develop ― largely because of being in a foreign country ― and the success they've achieved has not been seen since the mid-to-late 1980s when Murray traveled with Jim Sharp, Lane FrostTuff Hedeman and Cody Lambert.

"When you have a carload of guys all traveling together," Meier said, "you feed off of it. If you see your traveling partner and he just went out there and cracked one for 88, well, you're going to crack one for 89, because you don't want to be the low dog back in the room.

"With as many (Brazilians) as there are here, they all feed off that energy. We've all seen and noticed if one is getting on that whole area is crowded and they're pushing each other. I don't know half the words they're saying, but you can tell it's intense. They're driving each other and you don't see that with the Americans."

To be successful, Meier (and others) realize there's something to be learned from the way the Brazilians go about their business and handle themselves in and out of the arena.

Palermo's eventual response was interesting.

He said when he first came to the U.S., in 2006, he watched Justin McBride, Ross Coleman, Hart and Tater Porter, and saw how the four of them banned together and worked together.

Wherever you saw one, you were certain to find the other three.

In recent years, Palermo said he doesn't see that as much with some of the current riders.

Palermo and Alves
Robson Palermo and Silvano Alves at the 2012 World Finals.

"In past years, you don't see that much," Palermo explained. "A couple guys go over there and pull the rope and 'bear down.' 'OK.' I think if those guys try to be more together, more of a group, I think for sure those guys have a chance to beat us Brazilians.

"You need talent, but if you have a group and you help each other… this is important."

Palermo, who won the first BFTS event of the 2013 season, said he the others not only talk and analyze afterwards, but more importantly, they discuss strategies beforehand.

They are constantly striving to win.

That was the same observation Lostroh made last October when he talked with several riders in the locker room at the conclusion of the World Finals. He talked about rallying the riders to want to win-if for no other reason than pride.

Not since Kody Lostroh won the title in 2009 has an American been the World Champion, and Troy Dunn, who claimed the title in 1998, is the only non-American and non-Brazilian to win the gold buckle.

Five different Brazilian riders ― Adriano Moraes (3), Ednei Caminhas (1), Marchi (1), Nunes (1) and Alves (2) ― have accounted for eight world titles in the first 19 seasons, including three in a row and four of the past five.

The American riders have only won three in a row twice in the PBR's 19-year history. Hedeman, Owen Washburn and Michael Gaffney did it from 1995 to 1997, and then Chris Shivers, Mike Lee and McBride won three in a row for the Americans in 2003, 2004 and 2005.

When asked what it will take to win a world title in 2013, Meier pointedly explained, "You have to want it more."

However, his extended answer related to his opening comment.

Meier, who turned 26 on Saturday, was honest and forthright in admitting that too often riders are happy to have made it to the BFTS and are not preparing to be a World Champion.

"You can talk to 1,000 kids and they don't say, 'I want to be a World Champion,'" Meier said. "They say, 'I want to ride in the PBR.'… You should strive to be a World Champion."

Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.

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