After 57 years, George Toma’s tenure as Super Bowl groundskeeper comes to a close in 2024

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George Toma, the 95-year old groundskeeper known as ‘The Sodfather’ who has served in that role for every Super Bowl since the game’s inception, told KCUR in Kansas City that he will not work Super Bowl LVIII, bringing an end to his 57-year streak as Super Bowl groundskeeper. 

Toma’s decision comes one year after field conditions became a sore point in Super Bowl LVII. Last year’s Super Bowl saw field conditions become a factor, as both the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles slipped and struggled to keep their footing on the turf at State Farm Stadium. The Eagles in particular complained bitterly about the turf after losing 38-35. Toma, whose long career as a groundskeeper for sporting events goes back to the days of Kansas City Athletics games at Municipal Stadium, defended his performance following the game by saying that the NFL had overwatered the game field and that the two practice fields had been in very poor condition.

“The two practice fields (were) the worst fields that I’ve seen — maybe not at the Super Bowls, but in the entire NFL,” Toma told KCUR, before describing the condition of the game field following halftime show rehearsals. “When we pulled it up after practice, it was mud. Retracted mud.”

Evidently, Toma was made to take the fall, but field and turf conditions have again become a storyline in the leadup to this year’s Super Bowl. While the Chiefs are practicing this week on a natural grass field — the sort that the Super Bowl itself will be played on — the San Francisco 49ers have had to practice on grass laid over a synthetic turf surface at UNLV, an issue which was raised by NFL Players Association executive director Lloyd Howell during a news conference on Wednesday.

(Super Bowl LVIII will be broadcast on CBS and Nickelodeon and you can stream it on Paramount+; here’s how to watch)

As for Toma, he expressed that he wished he had more dialogue with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell, who he apparently did not have any extensive conversation with prior to his departure from the Super Bowl grounds crew.

“It doesn’t hurt me. I still love Roger Goodell, but he hasn’t given me 30 seconds,” Toma said. “That’s all I want to this day.”

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