PUEBLO, Colo. – While there is no questioning the popularity of two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney, three-time World Champion Silvano Alves, 2016 World Champion Cooper Davis and 2008 World Champion Guilherme Marchi, there are some fans of professional bull riding that rather root for their 1,500-2,000-pound adversaries than the bull riders themselves.
On Thursday night, two of the PBR’s top active bulls are featured on CBS Sports Network during “PBR Tough 10: Baddest Buckers.”
The episode, which airs at 7 p.m. ET, is the first of a five-part series on CBS Sports Network.
In the first episode, legends such as PBR Director of Livestock Cody Lambert, two-time World Champion Justin McBride, 1994 Rookie of the Year J.W. Hart, 1998 Ring of Honor inductee Jerome Davis, bullfighter Shorty Gorham and stock contractors Chad Berger and Matt Scharping help rank 10 of the rankest bulls in PBR history.
Jared Allen’s Air Time and 2012 World Champion Asteroid were the only two active bulls to make the Top-10 list.
Other bulls featured in the rankings include, three-time World Champions Bushwacker and Little Yellow Jacket, two-time World Champions Dillinger and Bones, 2007 World Champion Chicken on a Chain, 2005 World Champion Big Bucks, Red Wolf and Hammer.
Air Time is coming off a second consecutive collapse at the World Finals, and McBride said it will be hard for him to call Air Time one of the top all-time greats if the bovine athlete can’t come through and win a world title before his career is over.
“As far as putting him in the all-time great category, I can’t do that yet because he doesn’t have any hardware,” McBride says during the episode. “At the end of the day, if Peyton Manning wouldn’t have went on to win Super Bowls, he would have been the greatest quarterback to never win championships. Right now, Air Time is in that category to me because he hasn’t sealed the deal.”
The 5-year-old’s iconic, physical attributes are a major reason why he was able to crack the Top-10 list.
Air Time has bucked off 24 consecutive bull riders on the BFTS and has only been ridden once in his four-year BFTS career. At all levels of competition, Air Time is 31-1.
“He has stuff that most bulls don’t have,” Lambert said. “He has the ability to get in the air and take higher jumps and move faster while he is doing it than most bulls do.”
Michael Gaffney added, “One of those elite. You just never know what he is going to throw at you. The kitchen sink.”
At the 2016 Built Ford Tough World Finals, Air Time bucked off Zane Cook in 6.47 seconds, but was only marked 42.5 points, and he was then called for a foul against Mauney.
“If the guys are doubting that Air Time is good,” three-time World Champion Adriano Moraes said, “I don’t know what they are thinking. I consider him one of the best ever.”
Asteroid already has some hardware to his name and is coming off an impressive performance at the World Finals. The 9-year-old may be past his prime, but he is still proving fits for the best bull riders in the world.
He concluded 2016 11-0 on the BFTS and 14-0 overall. At the Finals, Asteroid knocked off Tyler Harr in 3.02 seconds and Lachlan Richardson in 2.44 seconds.
“Another bull that the guys for the longest time knew exactly what he was going to do,” Gorham said. “As he got older, he got smarter and changed it up and (went) different ways.”
Asteroid has only been ridden four times in the past seven years.
“He goes by feel,” Lambert said. “If a rider is leaned over to the right, he will spin to the left. If a rider is too far to the left, he will spin to the right and he is really jumping in the air when he does it.”
Berger confirmed this offseason that Asteroid will return for his six-plus BFTS season in 2017.
McBride said Asteroid, in ways, has gone underappreciated at times seeing as he competed during the same era as Bushwacker and Bones.
“Asteroid was a really great bull, still is a great bull,” McBride said. “I think his career got a little overshadowed just because of the time period he was in. He had to contend with the great Bushwacker all the time, but he did get a world title during Bushwacker’s heyday and that is something that will always keep him one of the all-time greats.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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