LAS VEGAS - Robbie Herrington has made a lot of deals throughout his career as a stock contractor, but none stands out like the one he made for Dillinger.
Of course there are the obvious reasons: Dillinger won back-to-back World Champion Bull titles in 2000 and 2001 and, to this day, according to www.probullstats.com, he's still historically ranked as the No. 1 bull of all time.
More important, Herrington still believes making the purchase from Neal Gay was the most honorable business dealing he's ever had with a fellow contractor. Not only did Gay fairly price the bull and allow Herrington and his oldest son Chad to pay half up front, but Dillinger came with a guarantee:
If they weren't happy with him after three events they could return him and get their money back.
"Of course, we knew the day we bought him that wasn't going to happen," said Herrington, who saw Dillinger for the first time at the 1999 World Finals when he drew Bubba Dunn and Justin McBride.
There was no way they weren't going to be satisfied with him, especially after seeing his World Finals performance in 1999.
In his first out Dillinger drew Dunn. He took two long jumps out of the chute and, according to Herrington, "it looked like he went halfway across the Thomas & Mack before he turned back, but it just happened so quick and so strong you're like, I don't know. It was like seeing something you had never seen before.
"Of course, it proved out over time that it really was something we hadn't seen before."
According to www.probullstats.com, he was ridden in seven of 47 outs on the Built Ford Tough Series from the start of the 2000 season until his career was cut short in 2002.
After being the top-scoring bull at the 1999 Finals, he went on to win back-to-back titles in 2000 and 2001. Only twice in his career was he marked under 45 points, compared to 13 scores of 48 or more points.
Of the seven qualified scores, four were round wins, and 28 times Dillinger was the high-marked bull of the event with a career BFTS average score of 46.83 points.
Six of the seven qualified rides were scored anywhere from 93.5 points to 96.5 points by the judges, and his lone mark of 88.5 points was impressive considering his broke his leg during the out.
"That's the one thing, when you look back, that takes the wind out of you," said Herrington, recalling the injury that took place in Louisville, Kentucky. He added, "It's not always easy."
"It was like seeing something you had never seen before," said Robbie Herrington.
Injuries are the unfortunate side of sports.
Athletes - whether it's a baseball player or a bull rider and, in this case, a bucking bull - are prone to getting hurt. It happens.
By and large, Dillinger had one of the most memorable careers. Three of the seven qualified rides took place in Las Vegas, where Ednei Caminhas rode him in 2000 for 94.5 points. In fact, Caminhas rode him four of the seven times.
However, the single most memorable moment came in 2001 when Chris Shivers covered Dillinger for 96.5 points. It's one of the four highest-marked rides in PBR history and the only one that took place at the preeminent event of the season.
"Everything about him was just phenomenal," Herrington said. "Everything was dynamic from the get-go."
Looking back, Herrington could only muster up, "Oh Lord," when asked if there was one accomplishment he was most proud of, before agreeing that he was most thankful for the fact that Gay sold him the bull.
Every competitor strives to get better and stock contractors are no exception.
They too want to continually better their pen of bulls. Whether it's adding to the depth or improving the quality, but even Herrington readily admits he's never likely going to have or even see a bull as good as Dillinger.
It was a special time.
According to Herrington, when bull-riding enthusiasts - be it contractors, riders and PBR fans alike - see a bull like Dillinger they appreciate it. People gravitate toward greatness.
When you talk about great bulls, from Little Yellow Jacket to Bushwacker, each has his own style. Herrington drew a comparison to basketball by noting that not every great NBA player is named Michael Jordan.
The first adjective he used in reference to Dillinger was powerful.
Dillinger was also extremely fast - for being a 2,000-pound bull - athletic and, yes, incredibly smart.
"Their whole personality unmasks themselves in front of us as fans and owners," he said. "We don't get to pick the stars. They kind of pick us."
Herrington said, at the time, Dillinger's career seemed to go by so quickly it was all a blur to him, but over the years he's been able to relive the memories and recall the various stories.
And events like Tuesday's upcoming Heroes & Legends Ceremony, in which Dillinger will receive this year's Brand of Honor, serves as opportunity to rekindle those great memories. While Herrington hasn't exactly write a speech, per se, the past couple months he's thought a lot about what he might say when it's his turn to speak.
"To this day it's still pretty unbelievable," he surmised.
"It doesn't get any better than this," said Herrington, who added that he's reminded of how important it is to "just slow down and enjoy what's left of the ride."
Follow Keith Ryan Cartwright on Twitter @PBR_KRC.
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