Who else missed watching Jade Corkill do NFR battle at the Thomas & Mack this week? You know, the guy who’s won three gold buckles, over $2.5 million and is a co-owner in the 3.3-second world team roping record? Well, I hate to break it to you, but we might have to get used to it.
A message of condolence on the passing of the Corkill family patriarch—their beloved Bill, who was best known as Pops and was the perfect match for Grandma Bunbun—passed away on Wednesday. And my text exchange with Jade turned up a big change of plans and direction for this 13-time NFR team roper who makes everybody’s short list in the heeling GOAT conversation—with the inclusion of Clay “Champ” Cooper’s list.
“It’s honestly not been as hard as I expected,” Jade said in response to my missing seeing him in action here. “I obviously wanted to be there, but we simply didn’t do good enough to make that happen, and I understand how it works. I’m not rodeoing anymore, so I’ve kind of made my peace with it already and I’m a pretty good couch warrior watching it.”
Losing Pops was bound to bring some big-picture life perspective. And it did.
“Pops was just one of the old school, tell it how it is men that we don’t have many left of anymore. He was the hardest working, most honest and toughest guys I know besides my dad. He loved all of us, and I’m going to miss him dearly. But I’m grateful for all he taught me in my life, and I will definitely pass it on to my kids. Pops really had it the perfect way. He lived 88 great years, only had one bad week, then went to sleep. It was about as good as anyone can hope for.”
I know how close the Corkills are, and that their hearts are really hurting right now. But I couldn’t help but double back on the news that Jade plans to excuse himself from the world championship conversation. Such news sends mixed-feelings signals through my heart—more family time, yes, but as one of the all-time greats and still at the top of your game…are you sure?
“My selfish side is mixed, too,” Jade said. “But I’ve had my fun. My heart is just pulled to my kids more than myself now. Colby (Jade’s oldest son) wants to do it, and I want to help him. I’m honestly as happy as I’ve ever been.”
And if you’re happy, we’re happy for you. Thanks for the amazing memories, and do please stay in touch as you turn the page on this next chapter. Tell Colby I’ll keep my pen warmed up for him.