George Toma is the NFL’s legendary groundskeeper, who has taken care of the sphere at each Tremendous Bowl.
The 94-year-old declared the turf at State Farm Stadium for Tremendous Bowl LVII is the second greatest he is seen.
PHOENIX — Some name him the Sultan of Sod or the Sod God, however George Toma is mostly identified by the moniker so clearly printed onto his sweatshirt, a present from a senior NFL official: He’s The Sodfather.
At age 94, the legendary groundskeeper has been tending the grass at each Tremendous Bowl ever performed. And he declares the turf for Tremendous Bowl LVII on Sunday is the second greatest subject he is ever seen.
Tremendous Bowl XLI in Miami was the one one with higher grass, he instructed reporters on Tuesday at State Farm Stadium. “That was between the Bears and the Colts and it rained the entire day. And there wasn’t a divot taken out of that subject,” he recalled. “This one proper right here, it was grown right here domestically by West Coast Turf. And I consider that is the second greatest grass we have had.”
What makes good NFL grass?
“Truly it’s important to have an excellent root system,” he defined. “And this subject could be very tight.”
Again within the large sport’s early days, Toma used to judge the standard of the sphere through the use of a “cleat-tester” he developed — basically a persist with a cleat on the tip that he might dig into the grass and twist to see how sturdy the grass stayed. “That solely value about $2,” he mentioned. “The brand new ones now value $1,100.”
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That is not the one large value that has modified relating to making and sustaining a Tremendous Bowl subject.
“Within the first 27 Tremendous Bowls, we by no means spent greater than $1,000 on the sphere, and this one right here is round $800,000,” Toma mentioned. (Different NFL officers would not decide to that determine.) “[Back then], we needed to be prepared in 9-14 days from grass seed.”
In contrast, the turf that’ll be underfoot the Kansas Metropolis Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday has been rising at an area sod farm for the final 18 months.
It additionally takes a substantial amount of work to get it prepared for the massive sport. Since being put in about two weeks in the past, the grass —Tahoma Hybrid Bermuda, overseeded with rye (for you lawn-ophiles) — is moved out and in of the stadium day by day by a mechanical platform the place the sod sits. Primarily, the ground rolls outdoors within the morning to get all that Arizona sunshine, and at 6 p.m. it rolls again in to guard it from the chilly desert temperatures in a single day.
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4 days earlier than the Tremendous Bowl, it should are available for good and will not see direct daylight once more till after it is trampled on by groups, crews and staffs and coated in celebratory confetti.
After the sport, the NFL mentioned it should discover alternatives to donate the sphere — possibly to an area highschool. However generally little elements of it go all throughout the nation. George’s son Ryan, who additionally works the grounds at Tremendous Bowl, mentioned he had despatched a patch of grass to the Indianapolis Colts from Tremendous Bowl XLI, which they received, and the crew thanked him with a field of drugs.
The elder Toma instructed Insider that after the Chiefs received Tremendous Bowl LIV in Miami, he despatched a two-foot-square patch of grass to a pal in Kansas Metropolis, who put in it in his entrance yard.
“It nonetheless comes again yearly,” he mentioned.
You’d anticipate nothing much less from such sturdy roots.