Rodeo Doctor Tandy Freeman Talks About Days of Patching Up Cowboys

TOUGH ENOUGH: Freeman sees to the health of the most injury-plagued athletes.
photography by Elizabeth Lavin

Tandy freeman has seen a lot. a former mavericks team physician with an orthopedic practice in Dallas, Freeman is currently the medical director of the Professional Bull Riders Tour, which means he’s at each of the PBR’s 30 tour stops, caring for riders whose injuries make us cringe.

THE TOUGHEST COWBOY: “Tuff Hedeman. A famous non-ride of his was on a bull named Bodacious in the PBR Finals in 1995. Bodacious would get a guy to lean out over him and then he’d swing his head back and hit the guy with his skull. Bodacious hit Tuff full in the face. Tuff falls down and there’s blood everywhere. It looks like someone’s taken a 4-by-4 and just hit him. It’s pushed everything from the bottom of his eyeballs to his chin back about two inches. And Tuff doesn’t want a stretcher. He sits down in the trainer’s room and, before anything else, he says, ‘Somebody go find Tracy [his wife]. Tell her I’m okay.’ He looks at me and goes, ‘Hey, doc. You think we ought to get my contacts out before my eyelids swell shut?’ It took about six hours to put his face back together. They had plates to reconstruct both of his eye sockets, to reconstruct his upper jaw.”

HOW BULL RIDERS PREPARE FOR A RIDE: “Quite honestly, a lot of the guys get in an almost meditative state. They know what the bull is supposed to do. What you’ll see is a lot of them working through the bull’s moves, eyes closed. There’s some advanced choreography for these guys.”

BASKETBALL PLAYERS ARE NOT WIMPS: “The demands on a basketball player are different from the demands on a bull rider. A.C. Green was a tough guy. There were days he had a hard time walking upright and yet he was playing basketball that night. And not by any chemical miracle.”


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