George Toma, the longtime groundskeeper who prepared and then advised the preparation of every Super Bowl field, believes the issues that plagued the field at Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona, could have been avoided.
The 94-year-old told ESPN that he believes the field was overwatered in the days leading up to the game. According to Toma, who has been nicknamed The Sodfather, the field was watered the Wednesday morning before the game and promptly rolled into the stadium on the moveable tray that housed the grass field for the last time before kickoff four days later.
Toma contended that the field should’ve been watered in the morning and kept outside to dry before being rolled in.
“So, what he does,” Toma said, referring to Ed Mangan, the NFL field director who was in charge of the Super Bowl field and worked under Toma for years, “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.”
A tarp was laid over the field to protect it from the rehearsals for the pregame, halftime and postgame shows, Toma said, and that led to the field emitting an odor. Toma said he was told during the week that the field was starting to decay and rot.
“It had a rotten smell,” he said.
Toma also alleged that Mangan did not sand the field enough.
“He sanded it two weeks too late,” Toma said. “He had only one sanding. 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.”
Toma said he’s not blaming rye grass for the field’s slickness, adding that he used rye grass for 27 Super Bowls.
In a statement the day after the Super Bowl, the NFL said: “The State Farm Stadium field surface met the required standards for the maintenance of natural surfaces, as per NFL policy. The natural grass surface was tested throughout Super Bowl week and was in compliance with all mandatory NFL practices.”
Super Bowl LVII was Toma’s last. He retired after more than 80 years in the groundskeeping business. “I can’t take it anymore,” said Toma, who said he hasn’t been pleased with how the NFL responded to field issues at Super Bowl sites in the past.
“Me and the league are finished,” Toma said. “They can’t tell me what to do anymore. We’re done.”
This content was originally published here.