TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — When the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Kansas City Chiefs take the field on Super Bowl Sunday, they’ll be playing on turf perfectly manicured by a man known as the “Sod Father” or “Sultan of Sod.”
George Toma, 91, has prepped the field at every single Super Bowl.
“It’s an honor for me to do this,” Toma told NewsNation affiliate WFLA.
Toma began working with the NFL in the 1960s during Super Bowl I.
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“In the early days, the first 20 Super Bowls, we only had, maybe, six to 12 days to get the field ready,” he said. “Now, we’ve got six weeks.”
Toma spent a large portion of his career serving as head groundskeeper at Arrowhead Stadium, home of the Kansas City Chiefs. Super Bowl LV is his second trip to Tampa for football’s biggest game.
“My theory is, the cheapest insurance for an athlete from kindergarten to the professional level is a good safe playing field,” Toma said.
That philosophy has earned him numerous awards throughout his career.
“You have to give the fans in the stands, and the fans on TV, a field of beauty and you have to do that while not taking too much out of the owner’s pockets,” he said. “If you’re not doing the job, I’m not afraid to tell you.”
Toma said Tampa topped his list of locations for the Super Bowl because of the groundskeeping team at Raymond James Stadium. He admires their efficiency in flipping the field from college play to NFL football overnight.
The 91-year-old has no plans of ending his work with the NFL.
“In slowing down, it’s up to the Lord, whatever the Lord wants me to do is what I’m meant to do,” Toma said.
Toma said he rooted for the Bucs during their NFC Championship game against the Green Bay Packers but that he’s sticking with his roots and will cheer on the Kansas City Chiefs in the big game.