In the darkest hours of the night, in a country far away, a lone soldier sat in front of a television set at 2:30 on a Monday morning. Staff Sergeant Chad Silverman was surely weary, but those moments were precious to the East Islip, NY native because they provided him a chance to watch his beloved New York Jets on Armed Forces Networks.
Silverman happily endured long nights like this one in order to follow the the Green and White in action while he was stationed in Korea, and he continued rooting for the team throughout two deployments to Iraq.
"I'm a die-hard Jets fan," Silverman told newyorkjets.com recently. "Actually my dad was a big-time Jets fan, so I kind of migrated to become a Jets fan because of him. I can remember growing up and my two top Jets were probably Curtis Martin and Wayne Chrebet… I can't remember too much, but I watched games with my dad. As far as now, I can't really say who is my favorite — I like pretty much everybody."
Last month, Silverman decided to re-enlist in the Army and extended his contract by three years. He has already spent nearly eight years in the Armed Forces, completing tours in Iraq from 2003-'04 and from '06-'07.
But on Feb. 24, Silverman got to take a slightly different tour as his re-enlistment ceremony was held at the New Meadowlands Stadium. There he stood at the same 50-yard-line where the Jets captains stroll for the opening coin toss, along with an officer who stood by to administer the re-enlistment. Silverman soaked it all in as he recited his oath to re-up for three extra years.
"That was incredible, it was once in a lifetime," he said. "I don't think the average Joe or anybody else would have the opportunity to do something like that, so that's something that is very important to me and it's something I'll always remember."
The 28-year old stood with the American flag behind him during the ceremony, but the event got even more exhilarating afterwards. Silverman and those with him had the chance to tour the rest of the brand new, state-of-the-art stadium and even got to run around the field turf, throw touchdown passes and understand what it feels like to scamper around an NFL playing surface. While they didn't exactly re-create some of the awe-inspiring, last-second heroics that the Jets were able to come up with throughout the 2010 season, they had plenty of fun.
"We did take some videos of us throwing some touchdown passes and running different routes and stuff, so we kind of just soaked in it," Silverman said. "We're not going to have the opportunity to do something like that again, so we had to take advantage of it."
His family moved down to Florida after Silverman lived in Long Island for 17 years and he joined the Armed Forces shortly thereafter. He is now in the 22nd Chemical Battalion, stationed at Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Aberdeen, Maryland, which is at the northern tip of the Chesapeake Bay. During Silverman's travels he's met a few others in the Army with a passion for the Jets that equals his, but he doesn't think many have had the chance to play where the Jets performed throughout the season. For a moment, he was able to relax and not think about the inevitability that he may be deployed overseas again.
"As of right now, no," Silverman said when asked if he knew what his next assignment would be. "You have to be ready to go at anytime. It's always subject to change, but as of right now I'll be here for a while hopefully."
And maybe next season, he'll get to watch his Jets a couple of times at their regularly scheduled times in the afternoon and in primetime, instead of at 2:30 in the morning.