With a media throng gathered around him Saturday night, Trevor Brazile was his typical calm, cool, collected and very respectful self, fielding dozens of questions. Then he recalled something someone once told him.
“A wise man once said to me, ‘Anyone can be a winner, but not everybody can be a champion,’” Brazile said, before taking a deep, emotional breath and dabbing his eyes with his hand.
Brazile knows of what he speaks. He’s a winner, no question. But he goes way beyond that, showing respect for the sport, respect for his peers, respect for his fans and everyone he comes into contact with. And most of all, respect for his family.
Oh, and there’s a heapin’ helpin’ of humility thrown in, for good measure.
That’s the difference. That’s what makes a champion.
Whomever that wise man was would have been tremendously proud of Brazile on Saturday night at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. The 42-year-old cowboy capped his full-time rodeo career by claiming his 14th all-around world championship.
Brazile won the final go-round of tie-down roping to cement the victory, clocking 7.2 seconds to earn $26,231. He finished the season with $335,680, less than an NFR go-round win ahead of his brother-in-law and 2017 all-around champion Tuf Cooper ($310,357).
It’s an incredible capper on a 22-year professional career. Brazile announced prior to the Wrangler NFR that this would be his last full-time season, in order to spend more time with wife Shada – who is Cooper’s older sister – and their three children.
Brazile won his first all-around crown in 2002.
“Until I won tonight, the first one was the most special,” he said. “But I don’t think anything is gonna be able to top this.”
Cooper certainly made it a challenge and in fact led the all-around going into Saturday night. But a penalty on his attempt in tie-down roping led to a no-time, and with Brazile winning the go-round, that was enough to clinch the crown.
Much like his brother-in-law, Cooper was a champion in defeat.
“This moment was what I dreamed of growing up,” the 28-year-old Cooper said. “Tenth round, world championship on the line, head-to-head with the best cowboy who’s ever done it. I’ll never have this chance again. I’m an optimistic guy. To come down to the 10th round, I’m not gonna let that call keep me from enjoying one of the best years I’ve ever had.
“My brother-in-law won a world championship, and I’m gonna go home and get married in two weeks. It’s not fun to come home without the hardware, but at the end of the day, I am so blessed to do what I get to do every day. And with Trevor retiring, now I’ve got the best coach in the world. We’re just getting’ started!”
No surprise, Brazile bowed out like a champion.
“I’ve had my time. I’m honored to be a part of it for as long as I was, and I’m excited for the future of rodeo,” he said, knowing full well Cooper is a big part of that future. “It’s been a special ride, not only for the last 10 days, but the last 22 years.”