By: Kendra Santos
GREEN BAY, Wisconsin—Where’s Isaac? Fans flocking to Packers country for the World Champions Rodeo Alliance’s $1 million Title Town Stampede tonight at the Resch Center are buzzing about the rather sudden scratch of the $50,000 bronc rider from January’s $1 million Windy City Round-up in Chicago, who received a champion’s exemption into Green Bay as part of that prize package. Sadly, the answer is an injury timeout for the talented Texan.
“I strained my groin at the rodeo in Mercedes, Texas, back in March, so I’ve kind of been nursing it along all spring,” explained Isaac, 32, who’s a six-year veteran of the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo and is currently ranked ninth in the world with $52,520 in Professional Rodeo Cowboys Association earnings for the year. “I thought it was getting better, but right at the whistle May 19 at the (prestigious, $35,000-added) Miles City (Montana) Bucking Horse Sale something popped, so I double grabbed. Then it popped three more times. “I couldn’t walk, so they had to carry me out of the arena. I got light-headed, and for about 10 minutes it hurt so bad that it made me want to puke and pass out.” The technical term for his injury is a sports hernia. But as cowboy medicine man Dr. Tandy Freeman put it to Diaz, “It’s a misleading name for it, because it doesn’t have anything to do with the lining of the stomach,” Isaac said. “What happened is muscles in my lower abdomen and groin tore away from my pelvis.” Diaz just underwent surgery Thursday (May 30) in Philadelphia. Dr. William Meyers, who’s a specialist in core repairs, performed the surgery, in which he drilled holes in Isaac’s pelvis and reattached the abdominal and groin muscles back to it.
“Bull riders get this injury a lot,” Diaz explained. “It happens when you’re squeezing your knees together and something stronger than you—in their case, a bull, and in my case, a bronc—pulls them apart.” Dr. Meyers regularly performs similar surgeries on professional athletes in other sports, oftentimes hockey, football and soccer. “He said he typically has those guys back to playing in about six weeks,” Diaz said.
“But they don’t use their groins the way cowboys do, or have big, strong animals ripping their knees apart. Dr. Meyers says if I’ll work hard at rehab, I should be able to ride again in about eight to 10 weeks. My goal is to be back in eight to nine weeks, in time to ride at the Dodge City (Kansas) Roundup Rodeo the first week in August.” Meanwhile, he’ll be rehabbing hard and riding along to help his NFR barrel racer wife, Britany, at the rodeos with both her horses and their baby girl, Whitlee. Dr. Meyers insists it’s important that Isaac not lift anything over 15 pounds while he’s recovering.
“So I figure Whitlee will have to weigh 14.5 pounds for the next couple months,” smiled the doting dad from Desdemona, Texas. Isaac is naturally disappointed to miss out on another $1 million rodeo, especially since both of his traveling partners—Shorty Garrett and Brody Cress—will be competing in Green Bay. “I’ve been looking forward to going to Green Bay for six months,” Diaz said. “Green Bay and Calgary (Stampede) are the two rodeos I’m most disappointed to miss. Especially Green Bay, where you only ride against 10 other guys.
“It was pretty cool when it looked like all three of us were going to Green Bay. I’d love to see one of those guys (Shorty or Brody) win $50,000. There will be a lot of great matchups. Cody DeMoss on (J Bar J’s) Julia ought to be really good. That horse is the one Brody won the long round on at the WCRA rodeo in Vegas a year ago in May. She makes a circle to the left and is straight up and down. If Cody does what he usually does, it’ll be good watching.”Isaac won’t be in the building, but his buddies will keep him in the loop. And Diaz has the same chance as his fellow rodeo fans to tune in tonight to watch it live at 7 p.m. ET on RidePass.com. CBS Sports Network will air the Title Town Stampede Showdown Round tomorrow, Sunday, June 2 at 1:30 p.m. ET (check local listings to confirm start times in your area). As for this disappointing derailment right at the start of the busy summer rodeo season, Diaz is going with the bright side, as he alway does.
“I hate to be missing Green Bay and a lot of prime rodeo time. The good news is the WCRA is growing, so I know there are a lot more opportunities ahead,” Isaac said. “To me, the way everything has unfolded, that $50,000 check from Chicago in January is just another example of God taking care of us again. He knew what was going to happen, so he handled it and took care of what we needed.
“I’ve been riding broncs for 18 years—since my freshman year of high school—and this is the longest time I’ve ever had to sit out. For me to sit here and complain wouldn’t be fair. I’ve been blessed as far as injuries go. To be dead honest, I’m grateful for this time. I’m thankful that I’ve had as good a year as I have. Britany has some young horses that she’s been working on for a long time and is starting to break the ice on. Now I get to spend two months with my wife and daughter. That’s a good deal, and I have nothing to complain about.”