The bull monty

Several thousand pounds of angry rib eye is coming to the city this weekend. Do not wear red.

Local steak and barbecue lovers had a heyday in ’07, so perhaps it’s only fair the city gives beef a shot at revenge.

Starting Friday 4, Madison Square Garden will host the Professional Bull Riders, Inc. (PBR), in the Versus Invitational—a three-day competition that pits the sport’s best riders against its roughest buckers. Cowboy and bull each receive a score out of 50 for their athletic performance, and the bull is considered “ridden”only if the rider lasts eight seconds or more.

According to PBR livestock director Cody Lambert, the “bulls make up half the athletes here; they’re as special as the guys that ride them.”

Here are four of the weekend’s orneriest critters, complete with their owners’ spot-on comparisons to bipedal pro athletes.

Big Bucks

Photograph: Courtesy of Professional Bull Riders, Inc.

Big Bucks

1,350 lbs

This six-and-a-half-year-old beauty, from Beaumont, Texas, has been “ridden” only once in his 47-ride career, and he’s zero for 17 this season (that’s good). Not to mention his average buck-off time is a chilling 3.55 seconds, making him the one to watch (and bet on—if you’re into that sort of degenerate behavior).

“He kicks so hard with his back feet that he just launches riders right over his head,” gushes PBR’s Lambert. “He’s a smaller bull, but when he’s bucking, he looks like a giant.”

Owner Jerry Nelson says Bucks is most like Chicago Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher: “Whatever’s gonna happen is gonna happen. He don’t mind.”

Big Bucks

Photograph: Courtesy of Professional Bull Riders, Inc.


1,550 lbs

Fairly new to the sport—Coop’s been ridden only three out of 14 times—the five-year-old has an average buck time of 4.38 seconds. But don’t let his comparatively slowpoke rep fool you.

“He’ll run someone over in the arena and 30 seconds later, be calm in the back pen,” warns Lambert of the wildly skittish beast from Mandan, North Dakota. Adds owner Chad Berger, “He’s real ornery in the chute—he just wants to get out of there.”

Cooper’s schizo personality reminds his handler of footballer Emmitt Smith. “When he’s done bucking, he don’t showboat around,” says Berger. “He goes in, scores a touchdown and leaves like he’s done it 100 times before.”

Big Bucks

Photograph: Courtesy of Professional Bull Riders, Inc.

Vertical Limit

1,800 lbs

Also from the Berger stock, this bully has an enviously perfect record (zero out of 20) and an average buck-off time of 3.94 seconds.

So even while he’s chowing down, Berger watches the six-year-old like a hawk: “He’s a little unpredictable, and mad all the time! If he senses he has an advantage, he’ll hook you right there in the pen.”

And if he played pro ball? Berger says Vertical Limit bears the closest resemblance to New York Giant Michael Strahan: “He don’t let up. I know if he were a defensive end, he’d always be sacking the quarterback.” We’re sure, for their part, the G-men wouldn’t mind having a snorting, ill-tempered pass rusher who weighs nearly a ton.

Big Bucks

Photograph: Courtesy of Professional Bull Riders, Inc.

Copperhead Slinger

1,850 lbs

This mean ol’ s.o.b. is another one of Berger’s babies, and he comes from a long line of high-jumping heavyweight champs. In fact, the athlete Berger thinks Slinger resembles most is Shaq: “He’s athletic despite how massive he is.”

And though his record isn’t as clean as Big Bucks’ (he’s been ridden ten out of 36 times, and five out of 17 this season), that doesn’t make the six-year-old steer any sweeter.

“He can be real mean,” says Lambert. “If a rider hits the ground, he will find him and run over him. You could never make friends with this bull.” Fine, Slinger. Forget adding you to our buddy list.