KANSAS CITY, Mo. — As the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles take to the gridiron for Super Bowl 57 next Sunday, there’s been one man sitting on the sidelines through every single matchup.
The “Sultan of Sod” himself, George Toma.
Toma has worked every single Super Bowl, and he turned 94 years old last week. He told FOX4’s Carey Wickersham that this may be his final big game.
“I’m slow now, I’m walking with a cane, but I throw the cane away now and then. I walk over to the field and make sure there are no depressions,” Toma said.
“I’m getting old right now, and I’m still hanging in there as long as I can. I enjoy what I’m doing as long as I live.”
Things have changed since that first big game 57 years ago, starting with the grass. But in today’s world, there are about 30 people on the grounds crew, a little different than it was nearly six decades ago.
“The first Super Bowl out in the Coliseum with the Chiefs, we spent $100 on the field,” Toma recalled.
“Then after that, the games that came along for the first 27 games of Super Bowls, didn’t sod in those days, so we had to seed. We had to have that field ready from seed in anywhere from nine to 14 days. That’s all we had. And we wouldn’t spend maybe $500 on that field.”
For this year’s Super Bowl, there is a new kind of grass on the field, and it’s been growing for 18 months. He said they put the second coat of paint on the Chiefs’ end zone Friday.
Toma is responsible for the Chiefs’ end zone in Arizona. He says NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has told him to remain neutral because he is an employee of the NFL for Super Bowl games. At least that’s what the commissioner tells him.
Sunday, State Farm Stadium is preparing for halftime show rehearsals, which Toma says will lead to the grass taking a beating.
“People don’t realize we have beautiful grass today, but starting tonight we’ll have 32 to 40 hours of halftime rehearsal on that field,” Toma said.
“With all the stages and all the thousands of kids running up and down, and that’s all next week where there will be almost six hours a day of rehearsals.”
“The grass is crying. Grass grows by inches, but it’s killed by feet. It takes a beating. We baby it and then these monsters come in and they trample it down, and we must brush it and break it back up and things like that.”
Even though Toma worked mostly for the Kansas City A’s, Royals, and Chiefs, he had offers from around the league, including the Yankees and the White Sox.
Toma grew up in Pennsylvania, only a few hours from Philadelphia. Toma said his uncle used to take him to Eagles games sometimes as a child, but we know which team he is pulling for on Super Bowl Sunday.