John F. Russell: Colt McCoy's a real cowboy

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— Cord McCoy is just what reality television needs.

He’s a quick-witted bull rider who managed to spread his cowboy character across 40,000 miles and five continents. He also managed to remind millions of viewers why, when we were children, we always wanted to grow up to be cowboys and cowgirls. He’s also pretty darn entertaining.

“It was kind of like being a rodeo cowboy,” McCoy said about his time on “The Amazing Race.” “As a cowboy, I have to figure out my own schedule, and I have to get from point A to point B by myself. As a cowboy, I’ve had to find small rodeo arenas across the United States, Canada, Mexico, Australia and Brazil. The only difference is when I get there, I know my challenge is going to weigh close to 1,800 pounds.”

Personally, I’ve found little or no use for reality television. But after spending a few minutes on the phone with McCoy the other day, I was kind of wishing I had tuned in to “The Amazing Race” last season. Not to watch a bunch of annoying people race across the world, but just to hear what McCoy was going to say next. I’m not surprised that McCoy and his brother Jet were fan favorites.

The cowboys finished second to brothers Don and Jordan Pious in the 16th season of the show, but I couldn’t tell you much more than that.

But after spending the past 20 years covering rodeos and interviewing cowboys as a reporter in Steamboat Springs, I’ve learned that cowboys are about a lot more than big hats and fancy boots. I would be stereotyping if I said they were all great guys, but I can say I have not been disappointed yet.

After McCoy finished “The Amazing Race,” he didn’t race off to Hollywood and try to use his newfound fame to rope some big-time acting job. No, McCoy and his brother organized a couple of fundraisers for the American Cancer Society in Ada, Okla., a town near where they grew up.

These days, McCoy has returned to climbing onto the back of rank bulls, and his saddle-bronc-riding brother has turned professional horse trainer.

McCoy said he looks back fondly on “The Amazing Race,” which was filmed this time last year, but admits that his heart is in the rodeo arena.

“There is nothing like walking into the Thomas & Mack Arena in Las Vegas for the PBR World Finals,” McCoy said. “There is a sense of accomplishment that comes from reaching a lifelong goal. I was and have always been a cowboy. That is what I will always be.”

So he didn’t win “The Amazing Race,” but I’m hoping the Oklahoma cowboy will end up on the top of the heap when he competes today at the PBR Rocky Mountain Bull Bash in Steamboat Springs.

If not, I’m sure he will be back out on the rodeo road, dealing with the reality of being a cowboy.

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