Professional Bull Riders tour storms Manhattan

You don't ordinarily think of New York as a rodeo kind of town, but the Professional Bull Riders are in Manhattan, doing their dangerous thing at Madison Square Garden, "CBS This Morning: Saturday" co-host Vinita Nair reports.

They're good old boys welcomed into arenas like rock stars. Each week, 35 of the best cowboys in the world compete as part of the Professional Bull Riders, or PBR.

It's often called the most dangerous eight seconds in sports; it's how long a rider needs to stay on top of a 1,800-pound bucking bull in order to be scored by a judge. One hand grips a rope, and the other must stay free the entire ride.

"As with any other professional athlete, that's kind of a routine once you get in the bucking chute," said 26-year-old Reese Cates. "You're not listening to the fans. You're not listening to the announcer. You might hear your buddies telling you good luck back behind the chutes, but other than that, you're focused in on the job at hand and that's riding the big piece of hamburger that's sitting underneath you."

Cates is already in his eighth season with PBR. It's the tour's ninth go-around in New York.

"Whenever we tell people that we have a venue at Madison Square Garden, it blows their mind," the rider said. "They're shocked about the whole situation. They're shocked that people come and watch here. They're shocked that we even get dirt in this arena. And then they're even more shocked that we're riding bulls in Madison Square Garden."

The arena is better known as the home to the NBA's New York Knicks and the NHL's New York Rangers. Crews work through the night laying 750 tons of dirt to transform The Garden into a rodeo.

This is Matt Triplett's second year competing in New York. The 23-year-old Montana native says he feels right at home.

"To compete in Madison Square Garden, where, you know, Muhammad Ali, all the biggest names and sports people in the world have competed here, it's just a dream come true," Triplett said.

The riders and bulls are each judged on a 50-point scale. The tougher the bull, the higher a rider's total score.

Friday night, Triplett was docked points when his bull didn't buck hard enough out of the chute. Judges gave him the option of a re-ride, which he wasn't able to attempt because the hard fall knocked the wind out of him.

Many times, the injuries are a lot more serious. Just ask Cates.

"I've broke some ribs and punctured and collapsed my lungs," he said. "So I've got some plates on my ribs. I broke my jaw, got some plates on my jaw. I've had surgery on my hand that I ride with. And I had shoulder reconstructive surgery last season."

Why does Cates do it? It's in his blood.

"The reason I do it is because I have a passion for it; my dad and my granddad both rode bulls," he said. "So I grew up around the sport. I grew up knowing what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be. And thanks to the PBR, they provide us an opportunity to make a living and to make a very good living riding bucking bulls."

Mike Lee, 31, earned $1 million for winning the 2004 world championship. But four years ago he hit the jackpot, when he met his wife Dana -- a New Yorker -- after a night at The Garden.

The Lees live on a ranch in Texas, but this weekend, the couple is commuting to the city by train from her parents' house on Long Island.

Dana knows the sport is dangerous, but she is supportive nonetheless.

"I got to do what I loved to do, and he gets to do what he loves to do," she said. "And if he wants to be 85 years old and riding, I'm going to be the 80-year-old in the front row screaming for him."

There's no doubt riding bulls is not a life for everyone.

"It's something that you can't really explain to people because it's an adrenaline rush," Cates said. "And maybe we're a little crazy, I don't know. I know some people think we are, but we like to think we're pretty normal human beings."

The PBR season runs until the championship in Las Vegas in October.