Dec 1, 2022
Vegas NFR Icons Lucheon
By Patrick Everson
For sports fans, it can sometimes be overwhelming – in a good way – to hang out in the presence of greatness.
Just so you know, sometimes greatness stands in awe of greatness, too.
That was the case Thursday afternoon, ahead of the first performance of the 2022 Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. At the inaugural Vegas NFR Icons luncheon held at Virgin Hotels-Las Vegas, inductees Trevor Brazile, Charmayne James and Ty Murray were rightly feted by those in a packed ballroom.
But the trio’s mutual admiration for each other’s accomplishments was a dominant theme.
“I got to see both of the ones I’m being inducted with compete throughout their careers,” Brazile said of Murray and James. “Their longevity is one thing, but [it’s more] what they’ve meant to the sport and this industry. The thing about Ty Murray’s success is that it supersedes the rough-stock end and the timed-event end of the arena. It was bigger than a discipline. I wanted to be like him. This honor was well earned, because he was an icon in my eyes.
“And Charmayne James has been an icon to every other young lady in this industry.”
Brazile racked up 26 gold buckles, including a massive 14 all-around world championships. James was the dominant force in barrel racing for a decade, peeling off 10 straight world championships – all aboard superhorse Scamper — from 1984-93, then adding an 11th aboard Cruiser in 2002 for good measure.
“To go in with Ty and Trevor is just really cool,” James said. “We all know each other really well. We all just have a mutual respect for what we all did. We kind of walked in the same shoes. There’s a little bit of understanding with the road we walked.
“I look at Ty and Trevor, they were amazing. What a great honor to be an NFR Icon with those two guys.”
Murray won seven all-around world championships, and he also nabbed a bull riding gold buckle, too. But he deferred to his Vegas NFR Icons peers on Thursday.
“I’m so glad to be going in with two of my best friends,” Murray said. “To go in with such great competitors really makes it extra special.”
On Thursday night at the Thomas & Mack Center, Brazile’s Vegas NFR Icons banner was unfurled from the arena rafters. Friday night, James gets the spotlights as her banner is revealed, and Murray will be honored by the 18,000-plus crowd on Saturday night.
“This feels extra special and extra humbling. And I’m not saying that to sound cliché,” Murray said, again noting he was wowed to be going in with such tremendous rodeo achievers. “This is the special of the special.”