Super Bowl LVII field turns into a super slip and slide
GLENDALE, Ariz. - The field at State Farm Stadium turned into a Super Bowl slip and slide.
With the surface seeming to get worse as the night wore on, players from both teams had a hard time keeping their footing on Sunday, leading several to change their cleats during a game that ended with the Kansas City Chiefs’ dramatic 38-35 comeback win over the Philadelphia Eagles.
"It was like playing on a water park," Eagles left tackle Jordan Mailata said.
State Farm Stadium has a history of slippery fields.
Players complained about field conditions at the BCS National Championship between Oregon and Auburn in 2010. Same thing in the College Football Playoff title game between Alabama and Clemson in 2015. The Fiesta Bowl has had its share of grassy slipups as well.
The Super Bowl was no different — even after the NFL spent nearly two years preparing the field.
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Chiefs quarterback Patrick Mahomes slipped while trying to make a cut, but was able to gain a few more yards. Kansas City receiver Skyy Moore lost his footing on a jet sweep and running back Isiah Pacheco even slipped during his celebration after scoring a touchdown.
Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Jalen Hurts and tight end Dallas Goedert were among the players who changed cleats to get better traction.
"I changed my cleats and right before the second half wore the different ones," Goedert said. "The second half, you know, the field was tearing up a little bit but, you know, once again, we’re playing on the same field as the Chiefs."
It’s not the first time this season Kansas City has had footing problems at State Farm Stadium.
In their season opener against the Arizona Cardinals, the Chiefs had all kinds of trouble with the playing surface.
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First-round pick Trent McDuffie, who had earned a starting job, injured his hamstring when he slipped and end up on injured reserve.
Kicker Harrison Butker also got injured when his plant foot slipped on a kickoff, forcing him to miss games and ultimately change his entire approach to kicking for the remainder of the season.
It happened again in the Super Bowl, though both teams felt the slippage.
"It’s not like we were playing on the on ice and they were playing on grass," Eagles coach Nick Sirianni said. "We all had to play on it, we all have to figure out our shoes."
The grass at State Farm Stadium is on a giant tray that is rolled in and out of the retractable roof stadium. The field sits out in the Arizona sun on warm days and is brought back inside when it gets cold.
"We put this field in January 16th," said Ed Mangan, Super Bowl Field Director. "We have sensors in the field we use to keep track of soil moisture. We give it what it needs but not too much of it."
Experts don’t believe the turf was overwatered, rather, overseeded.
Chandler-based Evergreen Turf is the regular sod supplier for State Farm Stadium.
"The bermuda grass is trying to sleep, it’s trying to go dormant this time of year. So you’re putting more rye grass to make it look better, look darker green and to stripe up," Evergreen Turf president and co-owner Jimmy Fox said. "That rye grass has a very high water content, and if you get too much rye grass, it can make the field slippery. When a cleat comes in contact with high water content rye grass, it can actually make it a little slick, so they try to find the right balance with the rye grass to make it look pretty and keeping that bermuda which has good footing."
He adds, "I think what happened in the Super Bowl is we erred on the side of way too much rye grass."
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GLENDALE, ARIZONA - FEBRUARY 12: Patrick Mahomes #15 of the Kansas City Chiefs carries the ball against the Philadelphia Eagles during the second half in Super Bowl LVII at State Farm Stadium on February 12, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)