T. Boone Pickens gestures as he answers a question during a news conference in Oklahoma City in 2010 after being recognized by the state legislature for his contributions to Oklahoma. (AP Photo/Sue Ogrocki)

A fall kept business magnate and Oklahoma State donor T. Boone Pickens from his annual preseason media session.

Ten years ago, Pickens began a tradition of meeting with reporters who cover the football team in the press box before the opener. The 10th-ranked Cowboys were set to start the season Thursday night against Tulsa. Pickens attended the game, but did not speak to the media.

In a statement, a regretful 89-year-old said he had a "Texas-size fall" earlier in the summer, and the recovery is taking longer than he had hoped. He said he is working with a speech coach, but he hasn't made enough progress to feel comfortable in a media setting.

"I don't want to frustrate myself, or you, with a sprited round of one-sided back-and-forth," he said.

Pickens has donated more than $500 million to his alma mater, and the school's football stadium bears his name. He said he still looks forward to the season.

"I have such a great feeling about our football team this year and our chances to win a national championship," he said. "Mike Gundy is building a great program."

Pickens said his health is improving, but it would be difficult for him to make every home game, as he had for more than a decade.

"But know this: When I'm physically absent, I'm still leaving all my heart on the field," he said.


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