Home » Former NFL groundskeeper says Super Bowl 57 field was overwatered, had a ‘rotten smell,’ began to decay

Former NFL groundskeeper says Super Bowl 57 field was overwatered, had a ‘rotten smell,’ began to decay

The field at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona for Super Bowl LVII was criticized by players and fans and now a former NFL groundskeeper is joining the conversation. Longtime groundskeeper George Toma says the field issues did not need to happen.

Toma, also known as the “Sodfather,” says the field was watered on the Wednesday morning before the game and quickly moved into the stadium. According to his expertise, he believes the field should have been left outside to dry after it was watered and moved in after.

He went through the process of what he believes Ed Mangan, the NFL field director who was in charge of the Super Bowl field, did to prepare for the big game. Mangan previously worked under Toma.

“So, what [Mangan] does,” Toma said (via ESPN), “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.”

Toma said the field had a foul odor, explaining that it came from the team laying a tarp over the field to protect it from rehearsals ahead of the game. The 94-year-old Toma said during the week of the Super Bowl, he was informed that the field was beginning to decay and rot. 

“It had a rotten smell,” he said.

The field was not sanded enough, according to Toma, who did not believe the timing of the sanding was proper.

“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.”

It is not the rye grass that Toma thinks was the problem, and he is familiar with the field type, as he used it for 27 Super Bowls.

After the game, the league released a statement saying, “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.”

Toma is now retired from groundskeeping after 80 years and expressed ongoing frustrations with how the league has handled field problems at Super Bowls. Super Bowl LVII between the Kansas City Chiefs and Philadelphia Eagles was his last in the business.

“I can’t take it anymore,” he said. “Me and the league are finished. They can’t tell me what to do anymore. We’re done.”