During an interview on the Dan LeBatard Show with Stugotz, George Toma talks about the controversial field conditions for the latest Super Bowl. Toma, a retired playing surface expert, or as the LeBatard crew so affectionately call him, “the Sodfather,” oversaw the upkeep of most fields used in the Super Bowls.
One of the more revealing revelations made by Toma was how the Cincinnati Bengals were at a disadvantage during two different Super Bowl runs, further adding seeds to the idea that it’s the Bengals versus the world.
Toma says from Super Bowl 1 to Super Bowl 39 there was only ever one problem. The first time he ever had a problem with any field was a Super Bowl involving the Bengals versus the San Fransisco 49ers.
Of that incident, Toma states:
"“From Super Bowl one to Super Bowl thirty-nine… we only had one problem on the field. And that was game between the 49ers and the Bengals where we covered the field that night and somebody turned the pumps on and sucked the moisture out of the sand. That was a queasy feel. That was the only problem we had.”"- George Toma
Toma never specifies if it was the 1982 or 1989 Super Bowl. Unfortunately, the Bengals lost both matchups against the 49ers.
Coincidentally, the league changed the rule that made the “no-huddle” offense that the Bengals had been running all year, illegal, just hours before the AFC Championship game in 1989 versus the Buffalo Bills.
Recently, adding to the theory that the NFL has it out for the Cincinnati Bengals, is the mercifully avoided “coin-flip” fiasco had the Bengals lost to the Ravens the last week of the regular season.
Fool me thrice.
Why does the NFL have it out for the Bengals?
Toma would go on to describe several problems where the NFL had to call on him to fix various issues to practice fields that teams would work on heading up to Super Bowl Sunday. He eventually went into painstaking detail as to what happened to make the field surface of this year’s Super Bowl so slippery.
Later in Toma’s recounting of his career, he explained that the field at UCLA’s Drake Stadium, where the Bengals were to prepare for the big game versus the Rams, was un-practicable.
"“We told Eddie Mangan and everybody that that field’s not ready, it’s in bad shape. He wouldn’t listen. After the first practice, they couldn’t, the Bengals couldn’t practice. They were in the huddle and I went out to talk to coach Taylor. I said ‘Coach, do you have a problem?’ And I’m very close with the Bengals because Paul Brown loves me. You can ask Mike Brown how Paul Brown loved me. And I said, ‘Coach, what’s your problem?’ He said, ‘we can’t practice on this field tomorrow. It’s wet and slippery. My men are falling. I’m afraid somebody’s going to get hurt. I have to go to the artificial turf field at UCLA. I don’t want to go there because it’s hot and hard. I said ‘Coach, don’t move.’”"- George Toma
From there, LeBatard, and executive producer Mike Ryan try to intervene making what Toma said hard to understand. But towards the end of his story, he told Coach Taylor that the field would be ready for the next day, and it was.
Toma went on to say,
"“We had it in good shape for Thursday, Friday and Saturday. After Saturday’s practice, the coaches came up and hugged me and thanked me. I said, I don’t deserve this. This goes back to the grounds crew. Travis and his crew. But where was the people from the NFL to thank our ground crew to save their fanny. Nobody, nobody at all… What Eddie Mangan did to that Bengals field, he did the same thing to the game field here (Super Bowl LVII)… ”"- George Toma
Perhaps the reason that nobody from the NFL came to say thank you to that grounds crew is because fixing the field where the Bengals were practicing was not in the script.
The Bengals arrived in Los Angeles on Tuesday before the Super Bowl. There was some type of practice or walk-through on Wednesday, but not much as Zac Taylor deemed the playing surface too slippery for a proper practice.
If the Rams, who were already playing at home, were able to practice under normal conditions on that Wednesday, that was certainly an advantage for them as NFL teams spend an infinite amount of time looking to add the most infinitesimal advantage over their opponents.
And that is to say nothing of the possible injuries that could have occurred while practicing for the biggest NFL game of the year.
So for the conspiracy theorists in Bengals nation, Mr. Toma added seeds to the fire that maybe the NFL has something against the Bengals organization. Something that could go back as far as the 80’s when the team made their first forays to the Super Bowl.
Hopefully, with the talk around this year’s Super Bowl’s playing surface, the NFL will be better prepared to have the best field possible in Las Vegas. And with luck, the Bengals will be one of the teams present.
We love the Bengals 3,000. Who Dey?!