Walt Garrison featured in the Real American Cowboy magazine June issue.
[Excerpt] It’s hard to pinpoint one achievement in Walt Garrison’s life that wouldn’t intimidate any person who met the man idolized by many.
Maybe it’s the two Hall of Fame Inductions during his football career or the two Super Bowl rings proudly displayed at this ranch. Perhaps, it is the charities he has supported along his journey or his achievements as a businessman after a rodeo injury ended his career.
But from the moment Walt Garrison holds out his hand to meet you the nerves float away, the sense of intimidation is gone and his friendly voice and humble attitude automatically make you feel like you’ve known this living legend forever.
Not too good for anyone, not boastful, not raised on a pedestal…Garrison is without a doubt a genuine person; he’s a cowboy.
Pulling into the ‘Garrison Ranch’ it’s easy to get excited as you’re greeted by a playful longhorn tossing his head and kicking as his runs along besides you till fence ends and he watches you drive around the corner. As you pass through a second gate you stop in awe of the magnificent horse ranch presented in front of your eyes. It’s hard to believe the man, known to most as an ex Dallas Cowboys football player, is so invested in his first true love; rodeo.
Garrison’s life long journey to present day is displayed proudly on every wall, shelf, desk, cabinet and more. From one of a kind art pieces by westerns best artists to personal photos with some of the biggest names in world; Garrison humbly laughs “oh that old thing” as one stares in awe. And yet amongst all the memorabilia, sports and music fanatics would die for, you can see Garrison’s modest side through personal belongings and little knick knacks mixed among some of sports most priceless mementos.
But past all the trophies and awards, the art and the keepsakes and the ranch that you dream of for years later, lays a side to the ‘famous’ football star unknown to many. A humorous side, with wit that could leave anyone in tears from laughing and a passion for rodeo many knew about; but just quite how passionate he was, many may have indeed not known. Nowadays, it technical terms Garrison has retired, but with more energy that most at the ‘mature’ age of 69 years, he finds himself constantly busy and showing no signs of slowing down soon. From launching his own BBQ rubs and sauce line, Walt Garrison Foods, to participating in charity events across the country; Garrison is still as diverse as he was 50 years ago.
When he does happen to find some “free” time, you’ll find him in his studio at home carving wood into absolutely anything you can think of. Displayed all over his house, with some of the world’s best treasures, one thing stands out the most in his woodwork; his humorous side. From functional apparatuses to games and witty display pieces, it’s easy to say Garrison has a gift when it comes to woodwork; most of which he donates to charity. Then there is the side of Walt that makes his eyes gleam with excitement and passion, the career path he ‘thought’ he’d go down and the one that ended his football. It all sounds a lot like a tragic fiction story, but the accident that ended his career and busted his knees is one that, to this day, Garrison has never regretted.
In his later years of high school, Garrison dreamed of one day qualifying for the Wrangler National Finals Rodeo. Living in town, Garrison wasn’t born into a rodeo family but instantly fell in love with the sport once he first laid eyes on it and like most cowboys, tried his luck in the rough stock events first. ‘Back in the day’, as Garrison likes to say, competitors only paid one fee at a rodeo and could compete in as many events as they wanted. Not a world champion by any means in the rough stock events, it was a friend that pushed Garrison to try out steer wrestling and the rest is, as they say, history.
While studying Veterinary Science at Oklahoma State University, Garrison was drafted in the fifth round of the 1966 NFL Draft and quickly became known for his ‘toughness’ and ‘dependability’. Playing for nine seasons, missing only seven games, Garrison was notorious for taking off to rodeos during the off season. Sometimes during training camp Garrison even snuck out to compete at a rodeo; that was until he got caught. Gracing the cover of Sports Illustrated, claiming two Super Bowl rings, 1973 Pro Bowl title and more, it’s without a doubt Garrison had a very successful football career.
However, it’s outside of the field that well and truly makes this man so intriguing; a man who seems to be successful at anything he puts his mind to.
For 30 years Garrison played a major role in helping to raise funds for Multiple Sclerosis, through annual celebrity rodeos with the likes of Charlie Daniels, George Strait and more attending. At the time, Strait was still an up and coming artist with one song on the radio, but performed at their first ever rodeo for a mere $10,000. Now one of the biggest stars on the planet, Strait happily returned to play at the final charity rodeo for the same price he was originally paid; a testimony of the strong friendships Garrison has formed over the years.
As Garrison remembers a life only one would dream of, he portrays each encounter in such detail that you know this cowboy at heart is genuinely thankful for the life he’s had so far. While many would think an ex professional football player and rodeo athlete would be slowing down at the age of 69; there are no signs of that in Garrison’s.
Seemingly still, just as fit as ever before, Garrison’s heart has never swayed from the rodeo arena, as he now fulfills his love of the sport with team roping. It’s easy to assume someone who had led a life such as Garrison could have a personality other than ‘humble and genuine’, but then again Garrison is still just a ‘cowboy at heart’. ©Copyright 2014 Real American Cowboy Magazine. All Rights Reserved.
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