As the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles prepare for Sunday’s Super Bowl showdown, “The Sodfather” has been busy preparing the field, like he always has since the big game started.
Nothing has stopped 94-year-old NFL groundskeeper George Toma – also affectionately called the “God of Sod.” Hereflected on his legendary career tending to every Super Bowl field, including this year’s turf at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona.
“I’m here to give the players the best possible condition to play on a safe playing field and then some,” Toma said Friday on “America’s Newsroom.”
Toma began working on the fields for Super Bowl I in 1967 with a $500 budget. He started his career as a groundskeeper at age 13 in 1942 and later worked as the groundskeeper for the Kansas City Chiefs in 1963. He also worked as the head groundskeeper for the 1984 and 1996 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles and Atlanta.
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Super Bowl LVII will be Toma’s last. But with the prospect of even greener pastures ahead in retirement, “The Sodfather” has one final job to do.
“I believe the grass we have here today is the second-best grass we had for 57 Super Bowls,” Toma boasted. “It comes from West Coast farms located here in Phoenix, and it’s a beautiful type of Bermuda Tahoma, and it’s outstanding on the field right now. Even if it’s getting beat pretty good by the halftime show practices.”
“I don’t like them stamping on that good grass,” he added with a smile when asked if he’s seen halftime headliner Rihanna’s rehearsals.
“After they get rehearsed we spend hours with brushes brushing it up to bring the leaves to stand up again,” he said.
Sunday’s matchup between the Chiefs and the Eagles is being played on natural grass. The field costs roughly $800,000 and took around 18 months to grow. A crew of 30 have been working for months to get State Farm Stadium game-ready.
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Toma believes the last Super Bowl game of his professional career will be one of the best yet.
“I think it is one of the best matchups in a long time between the Eagles and the Chiefs. And I think the fans will see a very interesting game,” he said.
When asked about which team he was rooting for, Pennsylvania-born Toma recalled an amusing exchange with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell when the Chiefs played in Super Bowl LIV in 2020.
“I told Roger I have to stick up for the Chiefs because I work for the Chiefs and Lamar Hunt and I are very, very close. And he said, ‘George, you work for the league, the league pays you. You have to be normal.’”
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The “God of Sod” then concluded his interview with a blessing: “May all your good fortunes now and during the coming years be as numerous as blades of grass… and then some.”
Super Bowl LVII kicks off Sunday, February 12 at 6:30 p.m. ET on FOX.