With the release of the NFL Players Association’s first-ever Club Report Cards, players have more power than ever before. Of course, not everything that came from these reports was shocking. No one’s jaw hit the floor when it was revealed that the Los Angeles Chargers’ medical staff was voted one of the worst in the league. Remember what they did to Tyrod Taylor? No one was baffled at the realization that the Washington Commanders are the worst team to play for. However, there were a few unexpected revelations.
Arizona Cardinals charge players for meals
For one, the report cards revealed that the Arizona Cardinals are the only organization in the league to charge players for meals they have at the team’s facilities. That’s pretty shitty. However, if you have chefs making you gourmet food, it’s fine to pay them for their services. Unfortunately for the Arizona Cardinals’ players, they weren’t getting gourmet food. The Cardinals’ quality of food ranked dead last in the NFL. So, they were paying money to eat terrible food? Might as well go down the street to Arby’s at that point. This is on the same level as the Oakland A’s forcing their players to pay for soda in the clubhouse in Moneyball. Check that, the players in that movie were actually getting sustenance that they enjoyed in soda. That’s not the case for the Cardinals apparently.
Not so bad to be a Raider?
Another thing that caught my eye was how highly-rated the Las Vegas Raiders were overall. This is a club that has been publicly ridiculed for its handling of Derek Carr. Star receiver Davante Adams has expressed discontent in that regard as well. I would’ve thought more players would be upset with how management has handled their players, but apparently, that’s incorrect. The Raiders were the third-highest-rated team in the NFL, behind only the Minnesota Vikings and Miami Dolphins. Given the off the field drama they’ve been involved with — including but not limited to Jon Gruden, Damon Arnette, Antonio Brown, and Henry Ruggs — I never in a million years would’ve thought the players liked playing there. I was more inclined to believe that the Raiders’ locker room culture was so poor, several players felt like they could do whatever they wanted. Shows how much I know about the inner workings of the NFL.
In terms of personnel, players seemed pretty willing to give their coaches positive marks. However, that wasn’t the case for the Atlanta Falcons and Baltimore Ravens. Where every other team gave their strength and conditioning coaches a B grade or better, the Falcons gave them a D-, while the Ravens gave their strength coaches an F-.
According to reports, several Ravens players believe that grade isn’t even low enough to detail just how poorly these coaches handled their position. Only 36 percent of Ravens’ players felt they were given individual strength plans. We knew that this was bad given how outspoken players like Derek Wolfe and Matthew Judon have been of the Ravens’ strength and conditioning staffs for years, but these reports detail just how bad they were and it’s frightening.
The message must have been heard as Ravens strength and conditioning coach Steve Saunders was recently relieved of his position. Previously, he had been blamed for his handling of the coronavirus in 2020 and was a large reason why the Ravens were so beat up in 2021. Hopefully, this grade will improve for the better quickly with a new strength coach on their way.
How they treat loved ones
Another shocking bit was just how few teams believe their employers treat their families well. Only four teams gave their organizations an A- or better in that category, tied for the fewest of any category with training room quality. I understand that you want your loved ones treated better. That’s why they’re your loved ones, because you put them above yourself. However, only four teams reportedly treated them well. Wow! That should be the most shocking thing on this list. Even worse, this was one of only three categories — along with food service/nutrition and team travel — to have four or more teams grant their organization an F or worse.
If this survey is to be believed, this league really doesn’t know how to treat their players’ loved ones. I understand that, unlike the players, team execs and staff don’t see their players’ loved ones on a regular basis. However, treating them appropriately without knowing them seems pretty straightforward. Be polite, be accommodating, and go out of your way to make them feel comfortable. You’re telling me that 28 teams couldn’t even manage to do that? WOW!
According to reports from players regarding the facilities in Jacksonville, there were even some players’ wives who were forced to change their children on the floors of the facilities’ public restrooms. GROSS! You’re telling me that the Jaguars can’t create a family room where that kind of stuff can happen in a clean environment?
All in all, these report cards were a tremendous idea by the players’ association and I hope we see more teams strive to better themselves in these regards in order to influence more free agents to come play for them. I’m honestly just shocked at how low some of these ratings are and the horror stories that have emerged. They’re eye-opening! Still, this was a much-needed first step by the NFLPA. Quality of life for NFL players can only improve as long as these reports keep coming in every year.