Tough Luck: Tony Bua Beyond The Call

Tough Luck: Tony Bua Beyond The Call

During his four years with the Arkansas Razorbacks (2000-2003), Tony Bua racked up a mountain of impressive stats, including being selected three times to the All-SEC Team and amassing 409 tackles. He’ll tell you, “It’s 422 (tackles), counting bowl games, which the NCAA doesn’t.”

Bua was known for almost always putting himself in the right places defensively on the field for former head coach Houston Nutt and playing the game with a passion Hog fans grew accustomed to at that time. “I played with my heart on my sleeve and gave it all I had because that’s all I know,” Bua said.

He was a 5th round pick as a linebacker by the Miami Dolphins in the 2004 NFL Draft and played one full season before injuries got the better of him. Bua went on to make stops with the Dallas Cowboys’ and Cincinnati Bengals’ practice squads before brief stints in the Canadian Football League (CFL) and All-American Football League (AAFL).

Still, even with years of success and achievement to hang his hat on, Bua says he knows “the question” is always right around the corner. So when it does, Bua is a quick draw at high noon with his answer. “It wasn’t a late hit, man,” he says while laughing.

The “hit” in question happened during the Oct. 18, 2003 game between Arkansas and the Florida Gators in Fayetteville. After falling behind to the Gators 33-7, the Hogs mounted an impressive comeback, scoring 21 unanswered points behind a then-unknown quarterback, Matt Jones.

However, late in the fourth with what appeared to be a critical defensive stop, Tony Bua was penalized for a helmet-to-helmet hit on Florida quarterback Chris Leake. The penalty was changed to a “late hit,” but kept Florida’s drive alive, allowing them to run out the clock and get out with the win.

“No one brings up the sack, or the interception I had at the goal line. It always comes down to the late hit,” Bua said. “It’s pretty funny, but it also shows you how much Razorback fans love their program. They can remember one play from so many years ago.”

After wrapping up his football career, Bua realized he still had to make a living. “My degree was a communications, and I just figured that would lead to a job in pharmaceutical sales,” he said. “But after I got out of college, I realized I wasn’t suited for working for a company. If I was going to do anything with my life, I had to do it on my own terms.”

Bua decided he’d impart the wisdom of his own collegiate and professional experiences onto other aspiring athletes, opening Bua’s Next Level Training in Rogers, Arkansas, in 2007.

Bua relocated to Dallas/Ft. Worth in 2011 where he married his wife, Taylor. After struggling to find work, he quickly fell back on a profession he swore he’d never consider: Roofing.

“I’d worked in the roofing industry since I was 14 because my dad owned a construction company,” he said. “I carried up the bundles, laid the shingles and all that. The day I left for college I told myself I was never going to work in the roofing business again.”

After a short stint in sales with two roofing companies, Bua reconsidered his vow to never work on the construction side of the roofing business. In 2012, Bua’s Next Level Roofing was born.

“When we started, we could only do two roofs a week. Now we’re doing more than 15,” said Bua. “We have a long way to go, and we’re excited about our future.” That future now includes two locations: One in Dallas and a second recently launched in Bryant last year.

“We’re able to work with our clients to make sure they get the best roof on their homes as possible,” he said. “Ninety five percent of our business involves insurance claims, so we’re also specialists. We know how they pay, and we know how to deal with them on behalf of our clients.”

To help launch the Bryant location, Bua enlisted the help of partner and friend, John Whitehead. “Tony was so excited about the idea of brining his business to Arkansas, he called me to Dallas several times last year to see his team work,” he said. “Our goal for Central Arkansas is 300 roofs, and we currently have 75 on contract ready to go.”

Bua is also committed to giving back to the communities where he serves, specifically with children. “The Boys and Girls Club has lost some of their funding this year,” he said. “We have about 500 kids who don’t have access to their after school programs. Five percent of all of our revenue is donated to that local charity.”

It’s a great lesson for never closing the door on any possibility. Turns out, they may lead you exactly where you’re supposed to be. For Tony Bua, that place is apparently still carrying bundles and laying shingles, just like he once did for his dad.