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Hall of Fame groundskeeper takes Super Bowl stage for 52nd-straight year

Estimated read time: 2-3 minutes

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MINNEAPOLIS — There will be a lot of focus Sunday on New England quarterback Tom Brady, Philadelphia counterpart Nick Foles, or (for local fans) Kyle Van Noy and Eric Rowe.

Even for the non-sports fans, pop star Justin Timberlake has promised a halftime show to remember on the same field.

But there are a lot of people behind the scenes at U.S. Bank Stadium, site of Super Bowl LII, that many people won’t notice when they tune in for the 4:30 p.m. MST kickoff.

Like Brady, their work will also be on display — and it may be just as important, for safety, aesthetics and a high-quality football game.

Leading the charge is groundskeeper George Toma. The Kansas City native turned 89 years old Friday, and he will have worked all 52 Super Bowls in his Hall of Fame career.

"I love what I do," Toma said. "But the one that really helps me is the man upstairs. He leads me, and I pray to him every day."

From Super Bowl I in Los Angeles to Sunday afternoon in the Twin Cities, whether on grass or field turf, Toma and his crews have put in all of the on-the-ground work for NFL fans of several generations to enjoy what has become the biggest sporting event in North America.

Some say it’s great. Toma says it’s his job.

"If you weren’t great, you wouldn’t be here today," he told KSL Sports. "To heck with it; we’re all here to get the job done."

Super Bowl LII

Toma called Minneapolis' Super Bowl particularly challenging because of the cold. But he’s up to the challenge — along with his small army of groundskeepers he often refers to as family.

"Our crew is great," Toma said. "They have other things to do, but you see them walking that field. If they see anything, they pick it up. Sometimes the fiber from the turf breaks loose, like your rug at home.

"Sometimes we may find 8-10 inches or one blade higher than the other blade. That’s the 'and-then-some' that other people have. They do their job, and then some."

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Jeremiah Jensen


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