Remembering Rickey Green
The team roping world recently lost a very special friend and family member in Rickey Green. Rickey was especially close to our own Jake Barnes and Clay O’Brien Cooper, so we decided to share a few of their favorite memories.

Jake on Rickey 

Rickey Green was the most unique person that I’ve ever met in my life, and I wish I had some of Rickey in me. I’ve always been known for being so intense. Rickey was the exact opposite. I’m not saying Rickey didn’t have a care in the world, but his goal was to always make you laugh and find humor in every situation. He had a new joke every time you saw him.

Rickey had the neatest personality. He was always the life of the party. He was just a funny guy, and I never did see him have a bad day. A lot of stories get bigger over the years, but you don’t have to exaggerate when you tell a Rickey story. One of my favorites was from one time when Rickey was roping with Bob McClelland, and they were at an IPRA (International Professional Rodeo Association) rodeo back East.

They had a special event called Money the Hard Way. It was kind of like a calf scramble for adults, and it was open to the public. They turned a bull loose in the arena, and whoever got the string off of the bull’s horns won $100. Everybody was scared of the bull, especially when he’d charge at ’em. Not Rickey. That bull got Rickey down, and mauled him so bad that he got thrown under the fence. Rickey jumped up on the other side of the fence, covered in bull slobber, and held that string up as proud as a matador that just won a big bullfight. The crowd roared, and Rickey got his hundred bucks. Then he went to the hospital to get his broken ribs taken care of.

When I was rodeoing with Allen (Bach), we traveled with Rickey and Julio (Moreno). It was like having your own stand-up comedian in the rig. We all became great friends. When I got inducted into the ProRodeo Hall of Fame, Rickey’s the guy I asked to introduce me. That’s like choosing your best man.

My goal was to win seven world championships, because I wanted to give all my family members a gold buckle. Rickey’s goal was to be known as the fastest heeler. They put the crossfire rule in because of Rickey Green, so Rickey accomplished his goal, too.

Clay on Rickey 

Rickey was a very unique character. His aim in life was to make you laugh and feel good, and he saw everything through the lens of humor. Rickey and I would go back and forth all the time, trying to outdo each other on every topic. He would usually win, and my stomach muscles would be spasming because I’d laughed so hard.

Cowboy comrades Rickey Green and Clay O’Brien Cooper talking shop at a rodeo in 1986. Sue Rosoff Photo

There used to be a really good roping at the coliseum in Phoenix in the wintertime, and we were there one day during the time when Jake and I were winning championships, and were considered the big dogs. I came around the corner, got out of whack, and didn’t even hit the steer. My loop hit the ground so hard, and it didn’t even come close. A split second later, I hear a horse coming up behind me 100 miles an hour, and it’s Rickey. He stops his horse, takes a couple swings, and slams his loop right down there next to mine. I’m looking at him like, “what are you doing?” And he looks at me and says, “I didn’t want yours to be the only terrible shot everybody saw today.” That was Rickey—not afraid to humor you out of any situation.

We all stopped what we were doing to watch Rickey rope, and he mastered roping steers running down the arena. It didn’t take very long for them to outlaw crossfiring, and that was because of Rickey. All he cared about in the arena was heeling steers as fast as was humanly possible. Outside the arena, it was all about being good to people, and making us laugh. Rickey Green lived his life very well.

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