When watching the 2023 Super Bowl, it was clear that something was wrong with the field. Players on both sides were seen slipping when attempting to make cuts, and it appeared as if the turf was wet.
Initially, the blame was placed on George “The Sodfather” Toma. Toma is one of the greatest groundskeepers of all time. He has prepared and the NFL has sought out consultation from him on every Super Bowl field. As a result of his heavy involvement in getting the field ready each year, many believed that he was to blame for the shoddy job done, however, he told a much different tale.
Toma shifted the blame to NFL field director Ed Magan who allegedly did not take the advice of The Sodfather. Toma was quoted as saying, “So, what he does, he waters the h**l out of it and puts it right into the stadium and that’s it, never sees sunlight again. He can’t do that”. In the same interview, he went on to say, “I can’t take it anymore. Me and the league are finished. They can’t tell me what to do anymore. We’re done”. It was clear that Toma has not let Magan pass over his advice go, and he makes a very compelling case for a solution that would have prevented the field from being as slick as it was in the biggest football game of the year.
However, the NFL has released a new culprit for the slick conditions in the Super Bowl. That being the cleats of the players taking part in the game. Mike Florio put out a report saying, “The NFL has an unofficial excuse for the situation, one that has been communicated when owners ask about it. Per a league source, the league blames the players for not wearing the right shoes. (The Eagles changed their cleats and it didn’t seem to matter.) Setting aside the fact that there should have been no reason for the teams to anticipate needing different types and sizes of cleats for a game that supposedly will be played under pristine conditions, the manner in which the field was torn up during the game shows that, regardless of whether the teams were able to properly adjust, the field, never ever should have been in that condition. Not for the most-watched game of the season. Not for any game, if the league truly cares about the health and safety of the players”.
Florio makes some great points in his report that poke some holes in the unofficial claims from the league. As he stated, the Eagles did bring different cleats to the game, and most of if not their entire roster changed their cleats during the game. Pairing this with the claims from Toma, it appears as if the league dropped the ball and did not let the field dry in the sunlight before bringing it into the stadium to be played on.
Hopefully, this will be a situation that the league can learn from, and something like this does not happen ever again. With the Super Bowl being the biggest stage in all of football, it is an embarrassment to both the league and the sport as a whole when issues like this occur.
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