PUEBLO, Colo. – Two-time World Champion J.B. Mauney was laying on the CT scan table inside the Sanford USD Medical Center Sunday night as the fire between his shoulder blades continued to rage.
Mauney had seen similar wrecks like the one he went through in the championship round when Pearl Harbor bucked him off in 2.17 seconds and folded him up like a lawn chair.
So as he laid there waiting to learn his fate, Mauney couldn’t help but worry some.
“I have seen a few people hit like that and break their damn necks and be paralyzed,” Mauney, who was writhing in pain in the PBR Sports Medicine room earlier in the evening, told PBR.com on Wednesday afternoon.
However, once Dr. Tandy Freeman looked over the scan with Mauney in the hospital, all Freeman had to say was six weeks before Mauney was asking:
Freeman explained to Mauney that realistically he would likely be unable to compete at Last Cowboy Standing on May 4-6, but Mauney’s initial question is all fans need to know about Mauney’s state of mind following a wreck that caused him to break his T1 and T2 vertebrae in his upper back.
The future PBR Ring of Honor inductee is not done.
He is not washed up.
He is not throwing in the towel.
He isn’t scared now.
And, no, he has no plans on wearing a helmet either.
“There was one comment (on social media) that said, ‘Wicked bull. I think it is time you hang it up J.B,’” Mauney said.
Just recalling the comment, pours some gasoline on Mauney’s mentality.
“People that never have ridden bulls for a living trying to tell you when to hang it up is what gets me,” Mauney said. “People that don’t have a clue and don’t’ understand. They say, ‘You are hurt and beat up,’ and they want to bring my daughter into it. People don’t realize this is how I make my living. It is not like I am out there just doing this shit for fun and getting hurt and being out of a job. This isn’t just for fun.
“I will decide when I am done. I still feel like in my head I can ride them. As long as I think that, I will still show up.”
Mauney is well aware of the talk about his struggles in 2018 and the fact that some have questioned what he has left in the tank after struggling to fully recover from career-threatening right shoulder surgery last summer, a torn groin and broken ribs.
Mauney is 27th in the world standings and is a career-low 7-for-22 in eight 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast events.
“I would like to flush it down the toilet and start over,” Mauney said in disgust.
However, the 13-year pro finally felt like he was figuring things back out this past weekend in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, before Pearl Harbor put a crushing end to his first half.
Mauney made an 87-point ride on Rocket Man in Round 2 and had a glare of fiery, confidence on his face during Championship Sunday.
“Hell, I have been riding like shit,” Mauney said. “I know exactly what my problems were. I felt good this weekend. That bull I rode, I felt like it was the old J.B.”
Despite bucking off Get Smoked in Round 3, Mauney flashed his stereotypical, cocky smirk on the back of the bucking chutes while preparing for Pearl Harbor. He was nodding his head to the in-arena music and had every bit of confidence as he stared down Pearl Harbor.
Pearl Harbor, though, simply got the best of him.
And it was costly.
“Well, if he hangs his horn, it takes that big ole jump away from him and he falls out there spinning,” Mauney said. “I got him out clean and if you watch him, that first big jump he raises me up and when he hits it is like he swoops away from you. When he did that big ole move like that, I was a day late and a dollar short.
“Right now, I feel like someone beat me with a ball bat across my shoulders.”
Mauney may see Pearl Harbor in his first event back when he competes at Chad Berger’s $100,000 Match of Champions in Bismarck, North Dakota, on June 15-16.
The Mooresville, North Carolina, cowboy has already attended physical therapy this week to get treatment for the muscles near his broken bones.
He even bought a push lawn mower to mow his lawn on Wednesday seeing as he is unable to use a riding mower because of the jarring vibrations that could affect his back.
“I am not bed ridden or house ridden,” Mauney said. “They will heal on their own if I give it time. Luckily it worked out. I will take six weeks any day.”
Mauney will let the injuries heal naturally before he steps back in the arena.
Work and Mauney will be synonymous this summer, too.
Mauney doesn’t plan on going to make bull ridings at all, but he is focused on getting on practice bulls all summer long to make sure everything is back to normal once the second-half 25th PBR: Unleash The Beast opener in Tulsa, Oklahoma, arrives on Aug. 11-12.
“The first half is ruined and done with,” Mauney concluded. “I can’t do anything about it. Hell, I can try and make a run at it in the second half. This summer I am going to try and let them heal as much as I can, but I am going to try and get everything figured out before the second half.
“I will have a few events after that summer break so they better look out.”
Follow Justin Felisko on Twitter @jfelisko
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