Kansas City groundskeeper legend George Toma quits NFL after 57 Super Bowls, following the ‘water park’ field in Arizona

Kansas City groundskeeping icon George Toma, nicknamed “The Sodfather,” has overseen or advised every Super Bowl field since the big game began in 1967.

This one was his last, it appears.

The 94-year-old legend indicated he’s finished with the National Football League after players repeatedly slipped on the Super Bowl LVII field at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, Feb. 12.

“Me and the league are finished,” Toma said in an interview with ESPN. “They can’t tell me what to do anymore. We’re done.

“I can’t take it anymore.”

Toma alleged the NFL’s field director Ed Mangan, who was in charge of the field, severely overwatered and under-sanded the turf outdoors, then had it rolled into the stadium without it drying out.

“So, what he does,” Toma said of Mangan, “he waters the hell out of it and puts it right into the stadium and that’s it. Never sees sunlight again. He can’t do that.”

To make matters worse, the field was then covered with a tarp to protect it while pregame, halftime and postgame performers rehearsed ahead of the game, leading to what Toma said was decay and rot.

“It had a rotten smell,” he said.

Toma had choice words for Mangan, who actually had worked under Toma for some time.

“He had only one sanding,” Toma said. “He should have had two or three sandings, but he didn’t do s—. And that was it. And not only that, he didn’t take care of it. He wouldn’t listen to anybody.”

Despite his 80 years of experience and having been honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the NFL pushed back against the undisputed Sultan of Sod.

“The State Farm Stadium field surface met the required standards for the maintenance of natural surfaces, as per NFL policy,” the league’s bureaucratic statement read. “The natural grass surface was tested throughout Super Bowl week and was in compliance with all mandatory NFL practices.”

It’s clear the players would side with Toma. They decried the field as a “water park” and “worst field that I’ve ever played on.”

Kansas City Chiefs fans will also recall that kicker Harrison Butker injured his ankle in that same stadium on the season’s first kickoff in September.

KC fans also are likely to take Toma’s side in this dispute. It’s with the Kansas City Athletics, Royals and Chiefs that his legend took seed. He’s since worked on fields for other baseball and football teams, and in fact is in the Major League Baseball Groundskeepers Hall of Fame. He’s also supervised groundskeeping at two Olympics and a World Cup.


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