George Toma
Born (1929-02-02) February 2, 1929 (age 95)
Known forGroundskeeper for the Kansas City Chiefs and Kansas City Royals

George Toma (born February 2, 1929) is an American groundskeeper who specializes in working on sports facilities.[1] Toma is one of the few surviving people to have attended every Super Bowl game, from 1967 to 2023.[2][3]

He has been nicknamed the "Sodfather" and "The God of Sod."[4]

Early life

As a youngster, he helped support his family by working at Artillery Park in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, home of the minor league baseball Wilkes-Barre Barons. He eventually worked his way up to head groundskeeper.

After serving in the military during the Korean War, Toma had a choice of working as stadium groundskeeper for minor league teams in Kansas City or Denver. He reportedly took the Kansas City job because the field was in worse shape than Denver.[5]


Kansas City sports teams

Toma has maintained the fields at numerous stadiums used by Major League Baseball and National Football League teams. For much of his career, Toma was the head groundskeeper for the Truman Sports Complex in Kansas City, Missouri; which includes the Kansas City Royals' Kauffman Stadium, and the Kansas City Chiefs' Arrowhead Stadium.[3][2][6]

Toma worked for the then-Kansas City Athletics until the team relocated to Oakland in 1968, and then for the expansion Royals, at Municipal Stadium, where the NFL Kansas City Chiefs also played. Municipal Stadium was also home to the Kansas City Spurs Soccer team.

In 1972, two new stadiums were built in Kansas City, Royals Stadium (now Kauffman) and Arrowhead Stadium. At the time of their opening, they both featured artificial turf, which brought Toma a new set of challenges. Toma has noted that artificial turf fields also require maintenance, and his crews have been able to nearly double their lifetime.[5]

In 2012, Toma was inducted into the Kansas City Royals Hall of Fame.

Super Bowl

Toma was contracted by the NFL to prepare the field for every Super Bowl from 1967 to 2023.[7]

Toma’s reputation won him the job of preparing the field for the first Super Bowl in 1967, as team owners from both the NFL and the American Football League contracted with him to head the grounds crew at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. He was given free rein by then-NFL Commissioner Pete Rozelle to decorate the field however he chose.[8]


Toma and the condition of the field in Super Bowl LVII were heavily criticized by players of both teams—the Philadelphia Eagles and Kansas City Chiefs—coaches and fans.[9] Players on both teams could be seen slipping on the grass surface.[9] Eagles linebacker Haason Reddick described the field as the "worst field that I've ever played on" and Eagles offensive lineman Jordan Mailata referred to the surface as a "water park out there."[9] Chiefs defensive tackle Chris Jones called the field's surface "terrible."[9] There were also safety issues regarding the field as Chiefs running back Isiah Pacheco could be seen twisting his ankle on the surface.[9]

Some Eagles fans questioned potential motives of Toma, as he is a Chiefs employee and fan of the team. The playing surface significantly hampered the Eagles defensive line, which was their strength, and hampered their ability to rush the quarterback.[10]

Toma, though he had praised league field director Ed Mangan for his work prior to the game, blamed Mangan for overwatering the playing surface and then immediately bringing the portable surface back indoors without allowing the grass to absorb sunlight. Additionally, he blamed Mangan for failing to sand the surface properly or in a timely manner, and covering the field with a tarp while it was still wet, giving it a foul smell.[11]

Other work

Toma was called upon to supervise the grounds crews during the 1984 and 1996 Olympic Games, and the 1994 World Cup.[7]

Toma officially retired from full-time work in 1999. He continues to work as a consultant for sports facilities and their groundskeepers around the United States.

Toma was honored by the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2001 as the recipient of the Ralph Hay Pioneer Award. Toma was inducted into the Major League Baseball Groundskeepers Hall of Fame on January 8, 2012, as one of its charter members.[12]

See also


  1. ^ George Toma with Alan Goforth (2004), George Toma: Nitty Gritty Dirt Man, Sports Publishing LLC, ISBN 9781582616469, retrieved 22 July 2012
  2. ^ a b Shea, Bill (February 10, 2023). "The man who covered every Super Bowl: Jerry Green and the end of an epic run". The Athletic. Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  3. ^ a b Wall, Dia (February 7, 2023). "Kansas City legend George Toma taking care of field for Super Bowl LVII". Retrieved February 7, 2023.
  4. ^ "'When I die, I want the NFL logo over my heart,' Sultan of Sod says". Tampa Bay Times. Retrieved 2021-02-07.
  5. ^ a b "KC legend Toma earns groundskeeping honor",, retrieved 22 July 2012
  6. ^ Smith, Michael David (February 10, 2023). "Sportswriter Jerry Green will miss his first Super Bowl, five others will attend their 57th". Retrieved February 11, 2023.
  7. ^ a b George Toma: From Single A to the Super Bowl ... and Then Some,, archived from the original on 5 September 2014, retrieved 22 July 2012
  8. ^ Post, Kent Babb, The Washington. "Legendary Super Bowl groundskeeper is just a guy who appreciates a good field". The Oakland Press. Retrieved 2021-02-07.((cite web)): CS1 maint: multiple names: authors list (link)
  9. ^ a b c d e "Hurley: NFL shows off new way to waste $800,000 with slippery field in Super Bowl", CBS News, retrieved 13 February 2023
  10. ^ Pagan, Kyle (February 13, 2023). "The Super Bowl Groundskeeper is a Chiefs Fan and Retired After the Game". Retrieved February 19, 2023.
  11. ^ "'Sodfather' George Toma blasts NFL for poor Super Bowl field, says groundskeeper watered 'the hell out of it'". Yahoo Sports. Retrieved 2023-03-16.
  12. ^ George Toma inducted into MLB Groundskeeper Hall of Fame, Royals MLB Pro Blog, archived from the original on 2 July 2012, retrieved 22 July 2012