A family’s cheering section is out in full force at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo.
There’s been a DeMoss in the bronc riding at the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo for the last 12 years. Except for four times, both brothers, Heith and Cody, have been regular players to the delight of their big, rowdy Louisiana cheering section.
Over the years, Mom, Dad, pretty wives, little kids, uncles, cousins, aunts, in-laws, and outlaws have warmed the hearts of home TV viewers when the camera found them in the crowd. They’ve carried signs, worn fake handlebar mustaches, swiped and sported Cody’s cigars, jumped around, clapped, and hollered for their boys. While they’ve never waved the Louisiana state flag, it’s flown in spirit over every performance.
This year is different. Early last spring, Mike DeMoss lost his battle with cancer. After missing last year’s NFR to stay home with him watching their boys on CBS Sports, Mama Vicki DeMoss is back in the house. The empty seat in their cheering section is huge, but the DeMoss clan carries him so strongly in their hearts it’s like he’s front and center. The way his sons are riding makes you wonder if the talented bareback rider might not be in those bronc saddles with them.
Both of the DeMoss men are living examples of the Cowboy Code, but other than that, they're as different as night and day.
Heith is flamboyant, can’t contain his joy after every ride. His riding style is maturing. He’s still the King of Recovery, which always comes in handy when he gets shaken loose, but more often these days, he’s sitting down and tight in the classic style of legendary bronc riders. He’s a media darling, featured in Cinch’s current commercial, a work of art that goes beyond corporate branding and gives viewers an up close and personal feel for the bronc rider’s world.
Cody is the strong, silent type. After 10 trips to the finals, several times reserve world champion, and missing the title in the final moments of 2012 by a heart-stomping $600, he’s anchored the No. 1 slot for most of the year. In Las Vegas, he’s been trading back and forth with Jacobs Crawley throughout the seven performances. He’s not healthy, but still riding strong through the painful lower-body injury that keeps him imbedded with the Justin Sports Medicine Team before and after each ride. He even declined his victory lap after winning Round 3.
Last night, DeMoss regained the lead by about $8,000, but having been disqualified in Round 4 for failing to keep give his horse the advantage by keeping his heels over the points of his shoulders as the rules of the game require, the bonus "average" money that will contribute to the field’s total 2015 earnings is a variable factor until the last NFR horse bucks.
The coffee shop is buzzing about that hot contest. While every fan has a favorite, there’s not a heart beating in bronc riding nation that doesn’t want the 34-year-old veteran to graduate from the ranks of the bridesmaids and win that elusive world championship.
The DeMoss cheering section? They don’t care. They’re wild but humble and live the Cowboy Code that begins in gratitude for the sweet life they’re blessed with and ends that very same way. Let the good times roll!