BALTIMORE -- The serenity of sunrise gives way to a workday.
Four days before kickoff, the stadium grass gets a precision cut.
The process begins with a good old-fashioned push mow, which relies on a high-tech blade that trims the outer edges.
Then wide, careful swaths are cut with a contraption that looks like it could've been constructed by NASA engineers.
This pristine green space in Baltimore City is 57,000, 600-square-feet of meticulously tended Tahoma Bermuda grass.
Head groundskeeper Sean Kauffman has been its caretaker for eight years. He doesn't claim to know every blade—but he treats this field like he would his own child.
"It's kinda part of my family," Kauffman said. "We spend a lot of hours here, a lot of time working with this field. So probably, it's almost like a child to me."
Kauffman treats the grass like it is his own, but this grass isn't native to Baltimore: it's grown on a farm in the Carolinas and shipped north by the truckload to be transplanted here.
Then, it is given tender-loving care like you'd expect to see on a golf course.
But there's no putting on this surface. Instead, there is pounding—big guys with cleats play here.
So, it's not just important for the field to look pretty. It has to perform.
"Your goal over the course of a whole year is to produce a field that withstands the biggest, fastest, strongest guys in the world," Kauffman said. "Running and cutting and planting for 3 or 4 hours, 10, 11, 12 times a year."
Much like a child, this playing service can be temperamental. Kaufman and his crew are on constant weather watch. They keep an eye out and adjust for conditions that change from day to day and from season to season.
"Whether it was a hurricane last October or some real treacherous cold weather in late December last year, it's done well," Kauffman said. "It recovers quickly and we've been really pleased with the results."
After the crew cuts the grass—they set up for painting lines and logos using strings with laser-like precision. Some crews actually use lasers for their layout, but these guys go old school: a metal tape measure. Football is a game of inches? It's more like millimeters for this crew.
"You aim for perfection. You do the best you can," Kauffman said. "We take the time to go through the process of trying to make sure everything is exactly where it needs to be and that everything is crisp and detailed."
Next up on the to-do list, painting with machinery and guides to keep those lines laser straight. The grounds crew carefully mixes paint colors to get an exact vibrancy, beauty, and durability. It's the final step in four days of prep for a three-hour football game.
And when the game ends, their work begins again and sometimes continues throughout the night.
SOT "The cleaning up of the field. Sweeping up the debris. Certainly walking the field, addressing any divots we may have out here. We could be out here seeding the field that night, aerating the field that night, fertilizing the field that night. All sorts of different things we could be doing."
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