By Derek Belt
Feb. 12, 2007
ELBERTA, ALA. – Eddie Woerner, the south Baldwin grass grower who supplied the sod for Super Bowl XLI in Miami, didn’t even get a ticket to the big game. He went anyway and had the time of his life.
“I’m starting to come back down to earth,” Woerner said with a chuckle.
Three weeks before kickoff, the game’s original turf was deemed too wet for play and Woerner’s Elberta-based Southern Turf Nurseries swooped in to patch things up. Some might say Woerner saved the day. For whatever reason, though, he was left to fend for himself on Super Bowl Sunday.
Woerner should have been allowed to watch the game from a La-Z-Boy recliner at the 50-yard line. He should have been given his own headset and allowed to call plays for the Chicago Bears. He should have at least been let into the stadium so he could enjoy the game from the stands.
But he wasn’t. The man didn’t even score an invite.
Good thing Woerner’s brother Lester had a 16-person skybox already reserved. Take that NFL.
It just goes to show you can’t keep a good grass grower down, especially if it’s his turf on the biggest stage of all.
For the first time in the game’s 41-year history, it rained on the Super Bowl. And it didn’t just rain a little, either. It rained all game long. That wasn’t necessarily a good thing for the man whose professional reputation was going to be put to the ultimate test. Or was it?
Woerner’s turf held up beautifully. The filed never turned to mud, the players didn’t complain about it afterwards, and the biggest one-day sporting event on the planet didn’t turn into the most-watched game of Slip-N-Slide in history.
Remember the movie “Field of Dreams”? That was probably Weorner’s stuff, too.
“When I woke up and saw that it was raining I was excited,” Woerner said. “Everybody in the country expected the field to turn to mud and fall apart, but I knew what it could do. It held up better than anybody expected.”
From a sod standpoint, Woerner said the play of the game came early in the fourth quarter when Indianapolis Colts cornerback Kelvin Hayden toed the line on his way to a 56-yard interception return for a touchdown.
Because it was wet, the turf could have easily given way under the pressure of Hayden’s cut. But it didn’t. “It didn’t even move an inch,” Woerner said.
Woener’s brother, a big-time grass grower himself, is a season-ticket holder at Dolphin Stadium, and his booth was filled to capacity with family and friends during the Super Bowl. It was also fully-catered with three rounds of tasty hors d’oeuvres.
Woerner wasn’t hungry, though. At least not in the early stages of the game.
“I told everybody before the game that I would eat any piece of grass that came up. That’s how sure of it I was,” Woerner said. “I didn’t eat anything until halftime because I didn’t know if I was going to have to eat the grass.”
With a little ranch dressing and some fresh ground pepper, it probably would have been good.