Three-time World Champion Bull Rider J.W. Harris will undergo knee surgery in Dallas on Feb. 29 and will be out of action for at least 18 weeks.
Dr. Tandy Freeman, director of the Justin Sportsmedicine Team, will perform the operation to repair a torn ACL in Harris’s left knee that has been troubling him since 2009.
“My wife is glad I’m having the surgery, so I won’t be so grouchy all the time,” Harris said, with a laugh. “It hurts constantly, whether I’m jumping off a fence or just walking.”
He took a month off after the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo last December, hoping it would feel better, and while he wasn’t in any great pain at his first rodeo back, in Odessa, Texas, he got hung up on a ride in Lafayette, La., later that weekend and aggravated the injury.
“I went in to have it checked out then,” Harris said, “and I was told there were calcium deposits that weren’t allowing the ACL to heal correctly. That’s when we scheduled the surgery.”
Actually, Harris scheduled two dates, hedging his bets. If he had not done well at the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo last week, he would have gone under the knife on Feb. 15. Once he placed in all three rounds of Bracket II – a first, a second and a third – Harris reverted to his backup date on the 29th.
That will allow him to compete in the semifinals (and potentially the finals) of the rodeo and also to take part in the $100,000 PRCA Xtreme Bulls Tour event there on Feb. 25.
“I wanted to try to at least have a crack at San Antone,” Harris said. “I kind of put all my eggs in one basket that way, and hope it works out.”
Harris knows well what he is facing. He had surgery to repair his ACL once before, in 2004, and was sidelined for more than three months.
He will work out at the Brownsville, Texas, rehab facility that he used the first time around, concentrating on a total fitness program.
“If it is 18 weeks, that brings me back around the Fourth of July,” Harris said. “If I’m doing really well with my rehab, it could be earlier. Reno (Nev., at the end of June) isn’t out of the question, but I’m definitely looking to ride bulls again by July 4.
“It’s going to be so good to feel right.”
Also facing surgery are Australian-born steer wrestler Brad McGilchrist (right shoulder), who may be sidelined for as long as six months and bull rider Casey Bowman of Lamesa, Texas (reconstruction of ACL, left knee), who will be out 18-24 weeks.
Evan Jayne, the bareback rider from Marseille, France, has a fracture of the trochanter – the part of the femur that connects to the hip bone – and will be unable to compete for about 12 weeks.