Dolphins, Vikings top players’ survey of NFL teams; Chiefs 31st

Dolphins, Vikings top players' survey of NFL teams; Chiefs 31st

In the NFL Players Association’s second annual “report card,” which evaluates teams based on player surveys spanning various categories, the Kansas City Chiefs, two-time defending Super Bowl champions, found themselves ranked second lowest in the league. The sole team trailing behind them was the Washington Commanders. Over 1,700 players, a significant increase from the previous year’s participation, contributed to the survey conducted between August and November. Released by the NFLPA on Wednesday, the survey encompassed a broad spectrum of topics, including team facilities, coaching staff, and ownership.

Remarkably, the top two teams in this year’s overall survey mirrored last year’s results but swapped positions, with the Miami Dolphins surpassing the Minnesota Vikings. Notably, while Chiefs’ head coach Andy Reid secured the top spot among all 32 teams in the head-coach category, a new addition this year carrying substantial weight in the final grading, Chiefs’ owner Clark Hunt ranked at the bottom among team owners. Player perceptions regarding the team’s investment in facilities influenced these rankings significantly. Specifically, the Chiefs scored poorly in several key areas, including food/cafeteria, nutritionist/dietician services, training room, and training staff.

NFLPA Executive Director Lloyd Howell emphasized that the purpose of the survey wasn’t to shame teams but rather to highlight both commendable practices and areas requiring improvement. Notably, the Chiefs faced similar criticisms last year, with players expressing dissatisfaction over issues such as seating arrangements in the locker room. Despite assurances of locker room renovations after the 2022 season, players noted no such changes, attributing the delay to the team’s extended Super Bowl run.

J.C. Tretter, NFLPA president, acknowledged the frustration among players, particularly in light of their continued success on the field not translating into improved facilities or conditions. Howell highlighted the positive response from certain teams to last year’s poor rankings, citing examples such as the Arizona Cardinals and Cincinnati Bengals, which made significant improvements in their offerings to players.

Conversely, the Dallas Cowboys experienced a notable drop in their overall ranking from fifth to twelfth, primarily due to low grades given to the team’s training staff. Tretter underscored the pervasive issue of understaffing in training departments across the league, stressing the importance of player health and performance.

Despite the league’s encouragement of player feedback, the survey’s release caught the league office off guard, prompting a desire for greater involvement in the process. The survey’s expansion to include additional categories this year affected some teams’ grades, with the Las Vegas Raiders experiencing a decline despite strong rankings in facility-related categories.

Travel arrangements emerged as a noteworthy concern, particularly as international games become more common. Tretter highlighted disparities in pre-game hotel arrangements, with some teams still requiring younger players to share rooms, while others offer options to “buy out” of the requirement.

Overall, the Dolphins and Vikings emerged as frontrunners, with the Dolphins excelling in ten out of eleven categories and the Vikings dominating in eight categories. Despite these standouts, Tretter noted a tight grouping among teams ranked third to seventh, emphasizing the competitiveness across the league in terms of player satisfaction with team environments and amenities.