The 2006 winner of the Toro Super Bowl Sports Turf Training Program, Chris Fondren.

The 2006 winner of the Toro Super Bowl Sports Turf Training Program, Chris Fondren.

For those in the athletic field management industry, the Super Bowl is more than a game. In the days leading up to Super Bowl Sunday, we examine what it takes to get the field in top-notch condition for the big game.

“The field had to be perfect. There is no room for error. There was a lot of intricate work that needed to be done … it took time. We worked 14- to 16-hour days.”

That was Chris Fondren, a graduate of Mississippi State University, describing his experience working on the field crew of Super Bowl XLI, played in 2007 between the Indianapolis Colts and Chicago Bears at Dolphins Stadium in Miami Gardens, Florida.

Fondren, who won the Toro Super Bowl Sports Training Contest in 2006, is currently a sales rep at Dickens Turf and Landscape Supply in Nashville, Tennessee. He remembers the rain, which lasted pretty much from kickoff to the final whistle.

“It was not a vacation trip by any means,” Fondren said. “I’m still drying out.”

Despite the wet conditions during the game, the weather in the Miami area was dry during the week leading up to Super Sunday. That allowed Fondren and the crew to prepare the field so well that it’s condition was not an issue during the game – something he and the crew took great pride in.

Much like Kevin Hansen’s positive experience in New Orleans, Fondren characterized his week on the Super Bowl crew as tremendous in every way, despite the rain.

“I tried to put as much into the experience as I could,” Fondren said. “And I certainly got a ton out of it. I was able to spend quite a bit of time with crew members, [and] asking questions. As a young, aspiring groundskeeper, I had a lot of questions regarding the industry as a whole. It was very interesting for me to hear about how everybody [approached] their day-to-day work.”

“Working on a Super Bowl was like résumé gold,” Fondren said. “I can’t tell you how many times I’d be going through a [job] interview, and they’d be going through my work experience, and they would get to the Super Bowl and they’d say ‘Whoa!’ It’s a great résumé builder.”

Former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback, current Fox broadcaster and four-time Super Bowl champion Terry Bradshaw once said “As a player, it says everything about you if you made the Hall of Fame. But, then again, boy … there’s something about winning a Super Bowl.”

For field care professionals, it may work the same way. Finding success at your job is one thing … but there’s something about working on the crew of a Super Bowl.

What does it take to prepare the field for the Super Bowl?