George Toma: Sod on Levi’s field was second-best we’ve had at a Super Bowl

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The quality of the playing field at Levi’s Stadium has been an issue since the stadium opened and it was an issue for some players during Super Bowl 50.

Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib and safety T.J. Ward each criticized the surface after Denver won the game and a video showing Panthers tackle Michael Oher looking like he was wearing roller skates while trying to pass protect has been making the rounds online.

Other players, including Von Miller, had no complaints and NFL turf consultant George Toma, who has worked on the fields at all 50 Super Bowls, said he hasn’t seen many better fields in the history of the game.

“I’m an 87-year-old man and I’ve been in this game for 74 years and been to 50 Super Bowls,” Toma said, via Matt Maiocco of CSN Bay Area. “And I thought this was the second-best sod we’ve had at a Super Bowl.”

Toma said the turf in Miami for a rainy Super Bowl XLI, which was also won by a Peyton Manning-quarterbacked team, was the only one better than the one the Broncos and Panthers played on last Sunday. Toma said that players are “hard-headed” about which cleats to wear and that “all they had to do was their change cleats” to get better footing.

CBS reported early in the game that several players on both teams were doing just that, although the Oher video shows that different players had different experiences on a field that the NFL’s longtime turf guru says was perfectly fine.

24 responses to “George Toma: Sod on Levi’s field was second-best we’ve had at a Super Bowl

  1. No disrespect to George Toma, but if the field was so good, why would players even NEED to change their cleats in the first place????

  2. Why do people keep bring up the Levi’s Stadium issue (which is true; the field has been spotty at best) when the field used in the SB was brought in by the NFL specifically for the game. If it was indeed crappy, it would’ve been crappy on Mars. Fulfilling a narrative and reporting what happened are two very different things.

  3. Because all surfaces are different and require different equipment.

    Oher was sliding on top of the grass, so clearly didn’t have the right cleats. If the field itself was crap, then it would have been tearing under his cleats.

  4. @lemmetalkwouldya – sounds like you played many sports growing up or at all… for example I grew up playing soccer and there are cleats for soft ground, firm ground, artificial ground, hard ground, etc as well of cleats for different categories such as for speed, power, control.

  5. He’s 87. Probably doesn’t know what day it is. The turf in Levi has been an issue ever since it opened. And I thought Northern California grew great grass….

  6. Just because it was the second best doesn’t mean it was great…and was it second best for traction or second best for appearance? I agree that it is just a matter of changing cleats, and there are different cleats for different field types, but this is a bit subjective to be so definitive.

    I recall Super Bowl 38 in Houston being a slipper field, with kickers and receivers sliding all over the place, but they identified the issue, and fixed it, and it turned out to be one of the most exiting Super Bowls (at least in the 2nd and 4th quarters) ever played.

  7. “NFL turf consultant George Toma, who has worked on the fields at all 50 Super Bowls, said he hasn’t seen many better fields in the history of the game.”

    So a guy whose work is being criticized, whose made big big easy money from the NFL over the years and doubtless does not want the gravy train to stop, is defending his crappy work.

    I’m totally surprised said no one.

  8. Do teams not get to really try the turf out on walkthroughs? Because in the biggest game of the year where a single play could decide things it was bizarre that both teams were having to make large-scale cleat changes during the game. There were no changing weather conditions so you would think they should have had their shoe options totally nailed down by kickoff. Regardless the overall quality of the turf, it definitely seems like both teams expected something different than what they got.

  9. this old fart has worked on the turf at all fifty SBs? even the indoor ones, New Orleans,Detroit,Minnesota and outdoor venues like Meadowlands and AT&T ?….senility prevails….what did he do to those artificial surfaces?

  10. cjpackfan says:
    Feb 10, 2016 6:56 PM

    this old fart has worked on the turf at all fifty SBs? even the indoor ones, New Orleans,Detroit,Minnesota and outdoor venues like Meadowlands and AT&T ?….senility prevails….what did he do to those artificial surfaces?
    —————————-

    I don’t know, but he used to work for the Royals and the Chiefs back when they had artificial surfaces.

    I’m sure there is some upkeep related to any surface.

    The guy is pretty much the authority on playing surfaces.

  11. Toma implied the turf was the second best he’d seen meaning that the other 49 Super Bowls were tied for being the best.

  12. It’s become obvious that the NFL really, truly believes that no one actually watches their product, because they are constantly making statements that defy what everyone has just seen…

  13. I think that both teams played on the same field, it’s up to them to make the adjustment that are necessary to win, also it seems that Denver made those changes. bill

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