Berger wins record ninth Stock Contractor
LAS VEGAS – For Chad Berger, winning doesn’t get old.
It’s a good thing, too, because he’s done a lot of it.
For the ninth time – and sixth in a row – Berger was voted the PBR Stock Contractor of the Year by the PBR’s top bull riders. Both set new all-time records, breaking the records Berger set in 2018.
“It never gets old, because I don’t just win this award for me,” Berger said.“I win it for (bull men) Delbert Nuce, Rex Meier, and my wife and family that puts up with a lot for me to be on the road. It means a lot to me to win it for them.”
While it’s Berger in the spotlight and receiving a buckle on top of the Can-Am Cage in T-Mobile Arena each year, he says it’s truly the team around him that deserves the credit.
“I’ve had more success than one man should ever have, so I want to just give the glory to all the people around me,” Berger said. “Because if you don’t have a good team, you can’t win nothing, and I’ve got the greatest team around me, right down to the guys that stay home and do all the work.”
Berger himself does plenty of work while on the road with his bulls, and this year has proven to be its own brand of challenge. The owner of the 2019 YETI World Champion Bull and 2019 YETI Bull of the Finals Smooth Operator swept up a series of accolades inside T-Mobile Arena.
In Round 2 – the night of the rank pen – two of Berger’s top bulls bucked back-to-back.
First, Smooth Wreck, who finished runner-up to Smooth Operator (Dakota Rodeo/Julie Rosen/Clay Struve/Chad Berger), dispatched Keyshawn Whitehorse in 3.92 seconds for a bull score of 45.5 points. As soon as the dirt was cleared, Berger rushed to the adjacent chute to oversee Smooth Operator’s out against Dylan Smith.
The bovine superstar then earned 46.25 points for dispatching Smith in 6.99 seconds.
After a tense few moments, Berger was able to exhale.
Bow down to the 2019 @yeti World Champion Bucking Bull, Smooth Operator! @chadberger pic.twitter.com/T9mH8dK7oa
— PBR (@PBR) November 11, 2019
“I never expected that kid to ride him for that long. He done a great job,” Berger said. “That was a great score. I was real happy with the score. If he has another one comparable, we’re going to win. If he don’t fall down or have a bad accident, we’re going to be okay.”
Smooth Operator’s next out was in the championship round, and his score wasn’t just comparable – it was better. The bovine dispatched world No. 3 Chase Outlaw in 4.11 seconds for a whopping 47-point bull score and the world title.
Smooth Operator is now 9 years old and is in the twilight of his career, and Berger knew the time was now for his bull to win a world title.
“It’s pretty nerve-racking, to be honest with you,” he said with a laugh. “They’re like your kids. And like I said, I’ve had more success than any one man should have, but I (wanted) it for that bull so bad. He’s 9 years old. He’s come from injuries and certain things to come back to where he is. And the partners I have on him, for them to win a world title, that means the world to me.”
While Berger has become the standard in the Stock Contractor of the Year race, he hadn’t had a World Champion Bull since he was part-owner of Code Blue in 2009.
“He comes in here with the Bucking Bull of the Year, he leaves the Stock Contractor of the Year,” said J.W. Hart on CBS Sports Network. “It’s just a testament of how true Chad Berger loves this sport, and the bulls that he has, and the partners that he has to put them together. And he brings them in great shape. You see by the performances of a 9-year-old World Champion. I don’t know if I can remember the last year a 9-year-old bull was that athletic enough to pull off a World Championship. So just to wrap your head around this World Finals is something truly amazing.”
It’s also yet another championship buckle to join Berger’s already sizeable collection that decorates his home in Mandan, North Dakota.
“We just kind of hang them up around the house. Got little trophy rooms,” Berger said with a grin. “It’s quite a sight just to come and look at our bunkhouse and see all the trophies and buckles and spurs.”
But just as he’s generous in giving credit to his team, he’s just as generous with the buckles themselves, having given some of them away.
One, his 2009 Stock Contractor of the Year buckle, was given to a girl named Lexi, a close friend of his that he met at a PBR event in Albuquerque, New Mexico, in 2017.
Lexi has a physical disability, and Berger first noticed her standing alone at a meet and greet.
“I had seen her standing there all alone, and it looked like she was scared,” Berger said of their first meeting. “So I went up to her and made her feel like she was welcome, and like she was just like everybody else. And we became great friends.
“She’s had some tough experiences in her life, so I gave her my 2009 Stock Contractor of the Year buckle.”
Lexi detailed her side of the story in a Facebook post, revealing that Berger gave her the buckle as a graduation gift in 2017.
“I could not believe my eyes,” she wrote. “I almost broke down into tears.”
For Berger, the choice to give his buckles to others was a no-brainer. The man whose successes come like clockwork wants nothing more than to spread the joy to those who might need a little more of it.
“We’ve got more than we need,” he said, “And there’s lots of people that enjoy them.” F
–Professional Bull Riders