GLENDALE, Ariz. — Iconic NFL groundskeeper George Toma says every Super Bowl is special.
This is now his 57th championship that he’s worked. Along with being a longtime groundskeeper at Arrowhead and Kauffman stadiums, Toma worked at the very first Super Bowl and hasn’t missed one since.
But after turning 94 last week, he previously told FOX4 this might 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.
In more recent years, he’s handed off the reigns as the Super Bowl’s head groundskeeper, instead acting as a consultant.
But without question, Toma said his most cherished Super Bowls are the ones the Kansas City Chiefs play in. But NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has made sure Toma understands cherished doesn’t mean cheering.
“He said, ‘George, you work for the league, the league pays you. You have to be neutral,” Toma told FOX4 on Tuesday.
But Toma still calls the Kansas City area home, and after his former employer won Super Bowl LIV in Miami as he turned 91, he received a special gesture he’ll never forget.
“After 35 years, (you) think they forget about you,” Toma said. “But here, Norma Hunt presented me with a ring.”
Toma said it brought tears to his eyes.
Speaking of tears, Chiefs fans might have cried, too, after turf issues in Week 1 at State Farm Stadium, the site of this year’s Super Bowl LVII. Some patchy sod is what many believe led to injuries for key Chiefs players, including kicker Harrison Butker.
But Toma, nicknamed the “Sodfather” and “the God of Sod,” told FOX4 that fans don’t need to worry this time around.
“This is a new turf,” he said Tuesday. “I believe this is the second-best turf that we’ve had in 57 Super Bowls.
Butker didn’t seem to worried anyway during the Super Bowl’s Opening Night event.
“The Super Bowl fields are always so nice,” Butker said Monday night.
And it’s always nice to have a man like Toma and his 57 years of experience on the sideline. Ed Mangan, NFL field director, has gotten a tip or two from his mentor over the years.
“‘You might want to think about something like this,’ you know what I mean, and you take that in and you say, ‘Yeah, yeah, he’s right,” Mangan said.
But mostly, Toma is grateful for his relationships with the game and the grass he so dearly loves.
“The Lord has helped me all through my 94 years and gave me the strength to keep on going, to work the Super Bowls,” Toma said.