Jacksonville Jaguars owners Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver once again demonstrated their strong devotion to the men and women of the United States military during Super Bowl week in South Florida. The Weavers, as well as many of the other NFL owners, were invited while in town to tour the USS Gridley, and they were the first to agree to the tour. The ship was in Miami for its official commissioning after being built and Christened in Maine.
"Before we actually pulled into Miami, the Weavers came out on a pilot boat, climbed up the pilot ladder and came aboard the ship. We've got three Jaguars fans onboard the ship and I was fortunate enough to give them a tour of our ship," said Command Master Chief Eric Emery.
Following the informative tour of the missile destroyer, the Weavers offered Commander Steve Shinego and his wife two tickets to join them in their suite for Super Bowl XLI at Dolphin Stadium.
Commander Shinego, who is an avid sports fan, has had each of the men and women under his command declare when they board the ship what their favorite sports and teams are. When the Weavers offered the tickets, Commander Shinego asked if he could give them to two of his officers since he was obligated to watch the game with his squadron. The Weavers agreed.
"The Weavers said that they would like to have a couple sailors come watch the game with them," said Emery, and he was told to pick two people to attend the game. For Emery it was easy, since he knew the two highest-ranking Jaguars fans among the 300-member crew: Officer Frank Denmark and Warren Hock.
"Warren and Frank were the two that I called up to go to the game. At first Frank said he had to work that day since he traded shifts with somebody. I gave him an hour to find someone to take his shift or I was going to go in his place. Ten minutes later he found somebody."
For Denmark and Hock, this was a dream come true. They went from meeting the Weavers, wearing their Fred Taylor and Jimmy Smith jerseys during the tour, to spending a day at the Super Bowl in a suite with the Weavers and members of the Houston Texans ownership group.
"It's hard putting it into words that someday you would be sitting in the owners' suite at the Super Bowl. It's a lot of peoples' goal to just go to the Super Bowl, but to add those parameters to it was overwhelming," said Hock.
"We were in our (dress) whites and before we went to the stadium, we went to the tailgate party. Since we were in uniform everyone treated us very hospitable. Over at the stadium, with the Weavers and the people with the Texans, was an eye-opening experience."
The two got to meet several guests and enjoyed plenty of food that was served in the suite. They also took advantage of numerous photo opportunities. The day itself was a blur to the two, with all of the festivities and the hospitality shown towards them. After the Colts won the game it was time to go back to the ship, but little did the two know that the Weavers had one more gift for them.
"After the game the Weavers offered us a ride to the ship in their car since it was still raining, so we didn't have to try to get a cab in the Super Bowl traffic," Hock said.
Back on the ship, Emery welcomed back his two sailors who would have stories to tell the crew about their once-in-a-lifetime experience.
"They went to the game and watched the game with the Weavers and had a great time," said Emery. "And they did bring me back a football signed by the Weavers."