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NFL's turf gurus gird for historic outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl

EAST RUTHERFORD, New Jersey -- It may qualify as a small irony that in the run-up to the first outdoor, cold-weather Super Bowl, the people seemingly least threatened about the possibility of bad weather are the folks whose job is to protect the surface on which the game will be played.

It should come as no surprise, since the NFL's groundskeeping experts are used to dealing with the elements — and improvising when they have to.

Like the time when rehearsals the night before one Super Bowl put foot-deep indentations into the NFL logo at midfield, necessitating an emergency trip to a local high school field where crews dug up chunks of sod as a replacement.

Or the 1970 game between the Kansas City Chiefs and Minnesota Vikings at Tulane Stadium in New Orleans, where crews had to spread wood chips and sawdust across the field and paint it green to look presentable.

None of that should happen at New Jersey's MetLife Stadium in February, but there certainly will be more scrutiny as the NFL uses the game as a test case for possible future cold-weather games. For all the extra attention, Ed Mangan, the league's field director for the Feb. 2 game, likened his job to an offensive lineman's, in which anonymity is its own reward.

“We set the stage for the players and that's our job; if you can't accept that, you shouldn't be doing it,” Mangan said. “The best compliment is that nobody mentions the field at all. If they are, it usually means something is wrong.”

MetLife Stadium, home to the New York Giants and New York Jets, likely will make things easier for the NFL in one respect. It has an artificial playing surface, which means the league won't have to truck in specially-grown sod as in previous Super Bowls. The re-sodding of Super Bowl fields has become a science, with sod grown up to two years in advance at special farms. (For home lawn enthusiasts, the NFL uses a hybrid Bermuda grass as a base, overseeded with perennial rye grass, Mangan said).

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A tarp covers the field at MetLife Stadium ahead of Sunday's game between the New York Giants and the Seattle Seahawks in East Rutherford, New Jersey, Thursday, Dec. 12. (AP)

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