Hitting the centennial mark is special treat

Has it really gone by this fast?

Am I really writing my 100th “NFR Insider” blog today? Wow, how time sprints away from you.

It’s hard to believe, but I’m full bore into year four of this enterprise, and it has been quite the experience so far. When I dreamed up this idea in 2011, little did I know how well it would be received and the life it would take on as time progressed.

It’s been hard work and, at times, challenging, but the ride has been a blast from the start. I’ve been able to cover the world’s most amazing rodeo and write about some of the sport’s most compelling and impressive athletes the past three-and-a-half years, and it has been a treat.

Part of the perks of being able to see the Wrangler NFR from the inside include photo ops with Vegas showgirls, like I had here in 2012.

One of the perks of being able to see the Wrangler NFR from the inside includes photo ops with all kinds of people, including Vegas showgirls like I had here in 2012.

Whether it’s interviewing country music legend Charlie Daniels, all-around king Trevor Brazile, winners of the Miss Rodeo America pageant, actor Mickey Jones or a slew of PRCA world champions, I’ve enjoyed it all. The variety of topics and features I’ve been able to cover and experience has been amazing when I look back on it.

My first blog was about the Fremont Street Experience and the Downtown Hoedown, and I’ve been running around Las Vegas covering the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo from every angle ever since. I’ve written about Cowboy Christmas, after-parties, buckle presentations, FanFest, the ProRodeo Fan Zone, the PRCA Exceptional Rodeo, the rodeo’s television production, helmets in bull riding, bullfighters, announcers, judges, injuries, triumphs, defeats, families in rodeo, pickup men and the glory of gold buckles.

I even became part of the story – a la one of my favorite writers Hunter S. Thompson – in 2011 when my back went out on me early during the Finals and I was nursed back to health with the help of the amazing Justin SportsMedicine Team at the Thomas & Mack Center. I had another memorable experience that year at the now-defunct Studio 54 club inside MGM Grand, although that blog didn’t sit well with some folks who’d rather not see that side of Las Vegas so in-depth.

I ended up in the Justin SportsMedicine Room in the bowels of the Thomas & Mack Center in 2011 when my back went out on me early during the Finals. The great staff worked on me for days and got me walking more like myself than Groucho Marx, and I still owe them a debt of gratitude.

That is not me in the photo, but I ended up in the Justin SportsMedicine Room in the bowels of the Thomas & Mack Center in 2011 when my back went out on me early during the Finals. The great staff worked on me for days and got me walking more like myself than Groucho Marx, and I still owe them a debt of gratitude.

It was also the year that Brazile was kind enough to let me see how the sport’s top dog lives in style at MGM Grand during the Wrangler NFR. He took me up to his massive suite to hang out with the family for a bit, and it was amazing to see where he kicks up his boots when he’s not being pulled 100 different directions during the Finals.

Being able to see Trevor Brazile's amazing MGM Grand suite during an exclusive interview in 2011 was one of the best experiences I've had at the Wrangler NFR.

Being able to see Trevor Brazile’s amazing MGM Grand suite during an exclusive interview in 2011 was one of the best experiences I’ve ever had at the Wrangler NFR.

Arguably my most popular column ever, “The Amazing Mary Walker,” came before the 2012 Wrangler NFR, when I wrote about the beloved barrel racer overcoming the loss of her son and a major injury to qualify for her first Finals. She went on to win the gold buckle that year and was the feel-good story of the entire rodeo, and I couldn’t have been happier for her.

I had the pleasure of doing an exclusive interview in the Thomas & Mack Center security office with Daniels before he performed during the opening of one of the performances in 2012, and he was gracious and engaging. He loves rodeo, and I could tell that he was enjoying every minute of being at the Finals.

Charlie Daniels was a great interview, and I was lucky enough to get an exclusive with the country music legend in 2012.  --PRCA ProRodeo photo by Greg Westfall

Charlie Daniels was a great interview, and I was lucky enough to get an exclusive with the country music legend in 2012. –PRCA ProRodeo photo by Greg Westfall

Some of the highlights from last year included writing about the friendly and humble Sherry Cervi, family ties in the sport and my top 10 moments from my first 10 Wrangler NFRs. Every day at the Finals is an adventure, and you never know what will happen that will turn your head and make you want to write about it.

That’s part of the beauty of the event, and it’s a treasure trove of great storylines for any writer. The fact that I’ve been able to expand NFR Insider to a nearly yearlong column is a testament to the scope and magnitude of the Wrangler NFR, and it just shows how much cache and weight it carries in the sport.

There’s no telling what the future will hold, but what I do know is that I’ll have a lot of fun covering the 10-day rodeo and giving readers exclusive and behind-the-scenes insight into the spectacle of the sport’s premier event. I owe a lot of thanks to Las Vegas Events for believing in my ability and standing behind me as a partner in this endeavor through the years.

I’ve been proud to have also provided photos for many of my entries, as any writer or journalist wants to be as well-rounded as possible, and I hope they’ve added something to NFR Insider.

Las Vegas is a wonderful and magical city, and I can't wait to explore it once again this December for "NFR Insider" fans.

Las Vegas is a wonderful and magical city, and I can’t wait to explore it once again this December for “NFR Insider” fans.

It’s been awesome, and I can’t wait to see what the next 100 articles bring. I hope it’s been enjoyable reading and has offered one-of-a-kind looks at the Wrangler NFR for fans, and I’ll be sure to keep looking for new things to explore in this blog.

Keep reading, and I’ll keep writing.

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