Jacobs Crawley was a senior at Texas A&M University when he first reached his goal of qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. While preparing for that rodeo, he was also thinking about a tattoo that would commemorate the occasion and provide lifelong inspiration.
In June of 2011, he won the National Intercollegiate Rodeo Association saddle bronc riding title, then spent the summer competing in the PRCA. He had been juggling college rodeos and pro rodeos all year, while spending a lot of time in the classroom and the library studying for his bachelor’s degree in industrial and systems engineering.
He and his college roommate, Clint Hopping, who rode bucking horses and bulls, spent many late nights studying and talking about their futures. They also traveled and worked out together.
Jacobs knew that his future was going to include competing in Las Vegas for a world title, he just wasn’t sure when. He and Clint’s conversations about the NFR included getting a back numbers and what that would mean. Jacobs told Clint when that happened, he was going to get a tattoo of that number. While he was making plans for the NFR, he thought over and over about it and just wasn’t sure what kind of tattoo he wanted to get.
They were studying in the West Campus Library at A&M. There was a dead tree there that gave them some inspiration. They both thought it would be a great tattoo. Clint had the idea to elaborate on the tree and add one piece of good fruit. It was reminiscent of the Bible verse, Matthew 7:19. The King James Version reads, “Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.”
Jacobs loved the idea and when he qualified for the NFR in 2011 he started planning that tattoo in earnest. At the base of the tree, as part of the trunk is his first back number – 83. And, there is one piece of fruit hanging from a tree limb, a constant reminder of the biblical message to bear good fruit.
“I was 23 at the time.” Jacobs said. “That tattoo took eight hours, a lot longer than I thought it would. I don’t know at 30 if I’d do it again, but I really enjoy my tattoo.”
His tattoo will be a reminder to bear good fruit and of his NFR qualification for the rest of his life. He won the gold buckle in 2015 and while he has ideas for other tattoos, this probably will be his last.
“I think I’m one and done,” he said. “I get ideas and my wife talks me out of them. I already had this one when we started dating. She likes it, but she doesn’t get very excited about me getting another one.”
After his first NFR qualification, Jacobs has been seven more times for eight consecutive trips. Five of those have been with his younger brother Sterling Crawley.
“The plan was for Sterling and I to both get tattoos with our first back number,” Jacobs said. “After mine took eight hours, he wasn’t having it.”
Jacobs and his wife, Lauren, have a son Corley that was born less than a month before the 2017 NFR. They made the trip to Las Vegas as a family where it was Corley’s first rodeo. This year, the family is on the road together and having them with Jacobs keeps him inspired. No matter what happens, bear good fruit.