This is just what the Fox Network asked former N.F.L. running back Mike Adamle to do. Seems they thought this sort of segment would draw the target audience--you guys--out of the Friday night blahs. The show is called "The Ultimate Challenge" and will feature an adventure segment, a big league stunt, a cutting edge sport, and some fool totally out of his element doing a crazy sport (like bullriding, climbing El Cap, Vine Diving etc.)
Fox decided to make this whole thing fly they would need an inventive and fresh producer/writer, enter John Long--and he would need a foil--me. The piece developed as follows: Adamle would go to bull riding school with the world champs (Jim Sharpe, Tuff Hedeman, Ty Murray etc.), and learn to ride in about three hours (forget about it), then the crew and Adamle would drive 10 hours to Del Rio, Texas for the biggest "bulls only" Rodeo in the world. This is where he would ride a one ton monster from hell into submission (we thought).
While Adamle was getting expert instruction from the champs, I was fooling around with some ranch animals I had never seen before--I thought they were the rare four peckered bull..... I was told later they were cows. After witnessing some foul habits by said beasts, I moseyed backover to the chutes to watch the action unfold.
Adamle was astride a huge bull and had his game face on. The instant the chute was opened the bull vaulted out of there like Carl Lewis on amphetamines and deposited Adamle on his ass within 2 seconds. Hmm--this looks serious.
After resting up a bit, our man was back on the same bull and ready to go. The chute flew open and the bull did it's magic. Once again, Adamle went down hard--real hard.
Figuring Adamle needed a rest, I came forward and told the boys to loan me some spurs, give me a glove, 30 seconds of instruction, and then step back. Largo suggested they get a fresh bull in there, and let that tired bull go and get some vittles. Fair enough.
The boys got a fresh bull in the chute that was called "Weenie Roast" that had only one horn. Foolishly I asked where the other horn was, "In the last riders ass," was the deadpan reply from the bulls owner.
I approached the chute like a man going to the gallows. Once astride Weenie Roast, the fellahs gave me quick pointers and told me hang on until I heard the horn eight seconds later. "No problem," I said, knowing this would be the longest 8 seconds on record.
The fellahs cinched up the strap running over the man post of the bull and waited for me to give them a go sign. "Hit it!" I blurted and the chute sprung open. I rode that beast for nearly an hour and then finally, due to fatigue, I hopped off onto my head. The fellahs hustled the bull away and helped me to get up. They told me that was the best 2 second ride they had ever seen.
Refusing to be shown up by some farm animal, I requested another chance. Largo again suggested they get a fresh bull in there for me--possibly a real rank one--if they had such a thing. They did.
Back in the chute, this time on a brahma called "Ball Buster" I nestled in and told the boys to let `er rip. This ride was about 3 hours long, and ended with another head plant. "Best 3 second ride I ever seen Hollywood," said the chute boss.
I dusted myself off and noticed a searing pain in my hand. I found out later this was because it was broken. The doctor said the knob on my head would go away by itself, but the hand needed a cast. Bummer.
Myself, Largo, Adamle, and crew did go to Del Rio for the big payoff ride. If you want to see how it turned out, watch the premier show in late June.
Ciao, Russ Walling
Update: The series was a minor success, and ran for a full season. The Del Rio event was the bloodiest on record and at least 6 cowboys went to the hospital, Adamle and myself not included.