Sunday Morning Coffee — March 10, 2024 — A Reverse Report Card

March 9, 2024 Sports 4 Comments

I don’t know why I am so intrigued by this but I am.

NFL football has become a 12-month obsession. Unlike any of our other three major team sports, which normally leaves the news cycle for a month or two during their off-seasons, NFL news never ends. The pre-season, Hard Knocks on HBO, the regular season, in-season Hard Knocks, the playoffs, the Super Bowl, the scouting combine, free agency, draft speculation, the made for TV schedule release, the draft, optional team workouts, training camp and kick-off. Rewind, season after season.

Ten days ago, February 28 on the heels of the scouting combine in Indy, for the second straight year the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) released the results of an internal survey conducted with its player members during the first month of the 2023 NFL season. It’s a reverse report card: the students grade the administration.

As reported by Andrew Beaton of the Wall Street Journal, as well as other news sources and from the NFLPA directly, over 1,700 players took part in the poll, a 77% response rate. The results can directly impact not only a team’s ability to re-sign players but the ultimate destination of free agents.

The union members voted the Washington Commanders the worst team to play for among the 32 in the league. Incredibly, the Kansas City Chiefs were close behind. Rounding out the bottom five were the Chargers, Patriots and Steelers.

The best — Miami and Minnesota. Miami was tops and the Vikings second, flip- flopping from the top two the year before. Green Bay was third.

The players judged their teams by 11 categories. Miami got no worse than an A- on any score. Washington got five grades of F or F-. Complete team by team results are at nflpa.com. A graph will open on the splash page; then click on the team name and category by category, complaint by complaint will be revealed.

Washington couldn’t overcome the players’ dismay of the stench of multiple sewage leaks throughout their training headquarters, never mind the players judging their workout room to be as good, or bad, as a neighborhood Planet Fitness. They also got Fs in the treatment of players’ families and the training staff. Ironic, but the highest grade the Commanders received was a B- for the nutrition and dietician staff, which was needed to overcome the D+ for food in its cafeteria.

The Chiefs are a grading enigma. The now two-time defending Super Bowl champion players gave coach Andy Reid the highest grade of any coach in the league. However, they flunked the organization on nutrition, the locker room and the training staff. The players also reported “consistent plumbing issues that limit the amount of functioning toilets” that actually flush. And while their coach is the best in the league, the Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt was graded by his players as the worst. Which makes Reid an even better coach keeping his team motivated and not focused on the plumbing or ownership.

While Hunt was judged to the be the worst owner, Miami’s Stephen Ross was voted best.

The worst coach in the league, the Raiders’ Josh McDaniels, didn’t last too long after the survey was taken, fired on October 31 even though the survey results didn’t become public until four months later. Interestingly the two right below rated bad at their jobs — Ron Rivera of Carolina and Atlanta’s Arthur Smith, are also gone. New Orleans head man Dennis Allen, ranked 29th, somehow hangs on but probably shouldn’t sign a long term housing lease.

If you enjoy a hot shower or might be hungry after a workout, you probably shouldn’t sign with the Cincinnati Bengals. The players complained that half the time the team’s showers don’t work — they either don’t provide warm water or there is little-to-no water pressure. And if you come into the team facility to work out on an off day you better make sure you know where the closest Skyline Chili is located because the team cafeteria is closed on off-days.

If bringing the family with you on game day is your thing and you play for Tampa Bay or the LA Chargers, bring some extra cash too. On game day, for most of the teams in the league, day care for players’ kids is free. However, if you play for the Bucs there is a charge of $90 per kid. The Chargers, much more wallet friendly, only charge $75 for the first kid and $50 for each additional.

The Bucs also like to gouge players on the road. If you’d like your own hotel room for an away game you can have it for the supplemental charge of only $1,750. Damn, that’s an outrageous up-charge for a room that is a fraction of the cost on a group rate. Who thinks this is okay? I got a penalty flag for illegal procedure. There was no indication if the team let the players keep their Marriott or Hyatt reward points.

The survey is effective at getting some attention from ownership and management. In 2022 Jacksonville players complained about a rat infestation in their practice facility. A year later and a brand new building, no more rats. Unless of course you’re not a fan of Trevor Lawrence.

The Arizona Cardinals, which in 2022 charged their players for dinner when they ate at the training headquarters, stopped that practice last season. That’s the good news. Not so good is those who hung around to eat this year graded the food a D.

And let’s give the Chiefs’ ownership, the worst in the league in their players opinion, some credit. In the 2022 survey, the players complained their chairs in the locker room didn’t have backs on them, aka a stool. Mr. Hunt got the message, dipped into petty cash and outfitted the entire clubhouse with chairs that had backs. What a guy. The players, elated, then went out and won him another Super Bowl.

And for our lovable J-E-T-S, no surprise, but they finished in the back half once again. It doesn’t matter if it’s on the field or in the players’ ratings, it’s second division stuff all the time. The report card was 21st in the league. The owner, Woody Johnson got a B- from his players and almost everything else was also ordinary, mainly B’s and C’s. They had one top ten — a B+ for nutrition/dietician and one D, a D- for treatment of the players’ families. The J-E-T-S may not have a Patrick Mahomes to offset some of the perceived survey problems like the Chiefs have, but at least their damn toilets flush.

4 Comments

  • Ken Rich says:

    Wow you have done it again. How in the world did you do your research? Impressive. I guess the information is strange but true.

  • Roy you always hold my attention with your column and I always enjoy learning something new. You have even inspired me to consider watching and rooting for a team this season.

  • Roy says:

    Friend’s survey:

    Andi/Roy Berger…A+ in every category.

  • David Bondurant says:

    I love reading your Sunday report. It’s amazing you can come up with such interesting information every week that keeps me captivated. Great job Roy

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