When brothers Michael and Frank Silva were 9 and 12 years old, respectively, they took two garbage cans and their father’s CB antennae on his pickup truck in order to create their own football game at their Manalapan home.
“We invented the game to get out of doing dishes on Thanksgiving, and as long as my brother and I were hanging out and getting along, our parents left us alone,” Michael Silva recalled. “Since we loved playing football and all of our friends were away with their families, we needed to come up with a football game that we could play with just us, so we invented the game. We never played the game with anyone else growing up because we thought people would think it was stupid. We played it every year on Thanksgiving and we called it the Thanksgiving Classic.
“As years went on, we grew up, had families, and eventually moved away from each other – we stopped playing. When my brother moved to the Atlanta area, my family drove down for Thanksgiving in 2015. It came time to do the dishes and my brother said, ‘Hey, you wanna go play the Classic?’ and I replied, ‘Of course’ so we modified it a bit using two 5-gallon buckets from Home Depot and we decided to play.
“One of Frank’s neighbors came by and played for three hours. He was the only stranger to play our game. After he left, I looked at Frank and said, ‘We got something here.’ Frank came up with the genius idea of making it out of a chair and QB54 was born,” Michael Silva said.
QB54 is a complete game of football built into two folding chairs, which can then be used for sitting. The name is a combination of QB for throwing the ball like a quarterback, and 54 for the number of points needed to win.
“We wanted a score that was high enough to allow people to come back and with the point values for different plays, it adds up pretty quick. We always ask, why not 54?” Michael Silva said.
It took only a month or two to develop a prototype, Michael Silva said. His mother-in-law sewed the first chairs while he put the PVC pipe on the back for the goal posts.
QB54 became public to the market in September 2016, and has been sold through www.playQB54.com, Amazon and various sporting goods stores since November.
Moreso than for just entertainment, the Silvas want to use this game to bring awareness to veterans’ issues. The game gained popularity after being introduced to Odessa Turner, a former Super Bowl champ of the New York Giants, through fans who had been playing the game.
“Odessa works with a non-profit organization called Play For Your Freedom, which assists veterans to transform from soldier to citizen through peer-to-peer groups, wellness programs and physical activity such as touch football games. Odessa had the vision that our game would be perfect for their organization because a lot of vets came out to play the touch football game; however, many were still on the sideline due to a disability, whether it be an amputated leg or other injury that prevented them to walk or run. When we introduced QB54 to the vets, everyone was able to participate – those that were able bodied and those that were not – and the smiles that were on their faces was absolutely priceless. We never thought in a million years that our game was going to affected so many people and in some many ways. It’s truly a rewarding experience.
“All of our customers are part of the QB54 Nation. We are creating a culture around the game and with us helping out with the vets. We are trying to help bring awareness to the struggles they have and try to support them whenever we can. As The QB54 Nation grows we hope that awareness grows along with it,” Michael Silva said. “We truly have something special here and we want everyone to know about it. We are just two brothers from New Jersey chasing our American Dream and we are getting closer to that every day.”
Michael Silva, who now lives in the Kendall Park section of South Brunswick, said the brothers always loved playing and watching football – as he is a Pittsburgh Steelers fan and Frank is an Atlanta Falcons fan – and their favorite play was the touchdown pass in the corner of the end zone with the receiver dragging his feet across the ground making the catch.
It was a thrill for them to attend the first Fantasy Football Convention in Dallas where they interacted with more than 20 NFL players, most of them Dallas Cowboys.
“There was an indoor football field at the convention where we were only to have access to it for 15 minutes for the whole convention. The NFL players and attendants loved our game so much we took over the field for the entire two days of the convention. They loved the game; some bought for themselves and we even gave one to them for their locker room. We even met some NFL players at the national Sports and Licensing Tailgate Show in Las Vegas and had the same response from those players as well,” Michael Silva said.
“To see NFL players playing our game is absolutely incredible. The look of joy on their faces and their competitive nature goes to the roots of our game. It gives us a sense of satisfaction and validation that we know our game is good,” he said.
The brothers also appeared on ABC’s summer show “Steve Harvey’s Funderdome” which aired on Aug 13.
For those not in the profession, the everyday gamer can bring the chairs to tailgates, the beach, the backyard, the lake or anywhere people are gathered for fun.
“It even keeps kids’ sport teams occupied in between games during their tournaments. I am a coach of my son’s travel baseball team and my team loves playing QB54 in between games to keep them occupied and sharp,” Michael Silva said.
Contact Jennifer Amato at email@example.com.