Meet 'The Sodfather,' the Legendary Groundskeeper, 92, Who Has Worked Every Super Bowl

Claudia Harmata
·2 min read

Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

George Toma has prepared every single field in Super Bowl history.

The legendary groundskeeper, 92, otherwise known as "Sultan of Sod" and "The Sodfather," is getting the field ready at Raymond James Stadium for the Kansas City Chiefs and Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Sunday's game marks his 55th Super Bowl.

Speaking to the Today show on Friday, Toma recalled starting his career as a groundskeeper for the NFL and MLB in Kansas City in 1957, eventually working his way up to become the head groundskeeper for the Kansas City Royals and the Chiefs.

His determined mentality began when he was "a little kid in the coal mines of Pennsylvania," he said, adding, "You had to work, and work is it."

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Stephe/Getty Images George Toma

Once he became head groundskeeper, Toma was approached by the late NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle to get the field ready for Super Bowl I in 1967.

"Commissioner asked me to do the first Super Bowl and I asked him what he wanted on the center of the field, what logo," Toma recalled. "He said, 'George, whatever you want, you put on.' "

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Toma takes great pride in his work, preparing a safe playing environment for the athletes. "The cheapest insurance for an athlete, from the little kid sitting in that kindergarten chair, all the way up to the Kelces and the Mahomes and the Bradys, is the safe playing field," he said.

David J Phillip/AP/Shutterstock George Toma

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According to Toma, the sod used for the Super Bowl is grown for 18 months before being put down on game day. "The most important part of the sod is the soil it's grown on and the root system of it," he said. "And how it's maintained before you put it in your yard."

Toma added, "Actually, as far as the grass, with the grass that is already grown, you put it down, you play on it the same day. But the thing is, you have to put the logos in, the Super Bowl logos, painting it, and the end zones, the side lines. We painted already three times."

As for which team he thinks will win Super Bowl LV, Toma said he "can't say."

"They're both good teams. But people here say in your heart there's a Chiefs logo, so you know what I mean," he teased.

Super Bowl LV will air on CBS at 6:30 p.m. ET.