Plumbing problems, travel trouble and daycare drama: Key takeaways from NFLPA team report cards

According to former defensive lineman and three-time Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt, NFL players take two assignments more seriously than other tasks they are asked to participate in: the selection of team captains and the NFL Players Association’s team and facility report cards.

The NFLPA released its grades from players for the 2023 season Wednesday and, although there were no mentions of rats in this report as there was in last year's inaugural version, players made their feelings over a range of 11 categories known.

“I would say things have improved and we’re glad that they are,” retired offensive lineman and NFLPA president J.C. Tretter said.

Here are several of the key takeaways from the 2024 edition of the NFLPA's team reports cards:

Top five teams in NFLPA team report cards

  1. Miami Dolphins

  2. Minnesota Vikings

  3. Green Bay Packers

  4. Philadelphia Eagles

  5. Jacksonville Jaguars

Bottom five teams in NFLPA team report cards

  • 28. Pittsburgh Steelers

  • 29. New England Patriots

  • 30. Los Angeles Chargers

  • 31. Kansas City Chiefs

  • 32. Washington Commanders

Charg-ering for daycare

The Los Angeles Chargers were one of six teams to receive a F or worse – the survey allows for F-minus – for treatment of families. The Chargers charge $75 for the first child in an off-site daycare facility and $50 for each additional child per family. They aren’t the only team to do so.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers charge players’ families $90 per child. Most teams offer the service for free.

The Cincinnati Bengals, Patriots, Steelers and Commanders all received F- for their treatment of families, which focused on services available to players and their families on game days.

Commanders still have lots of work to do

For the second straight year, the Commanders finished in last place overall. Their locker room and training room also received F-minus grades, while the training staff and team travel were marked with an F.

“When asked what the number one issue respondents want to prioritize for fixing, most players couldn’t come up with just one,” the report said. “Instead, the common answer was the entire facility.”

Plumbing issues

Bengals players reported that half of the showers in the locker room do not work properly and lack either hot water or sufficient water pressure. They also said there are five functioning toilets for the entire team.

In Tampa, Buccaneers players described the locker room as “unclean” and “smelly.” They also cited seeing bugs consistently in the showers. Commanders players reported multiple sewage leaks in their facility, and the team’s home stadium lacked hot water after at least one game there in 2023.

Travel troubles

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) reacts to an officials call on the sidelines during an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024 in Tampa, Fla.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Baker Mayfield (6) reacts to an officials call on the sidelines during an NFL wild-card playoff football game, Monday, Jan. 15, 2024 in Tampa, Fla.

Two other clubs aside from Washington received failing grades for the way they travel: the Buccaneers and Tennessee Titans.

Tennessee makes players sit in back of plane where they don’t fit, while staff sits in first class. They are one of seven teams that require players to have roommates the night before games.

Tampa Bay at least gives younger players the option to not have roommates on work travel – if they pay the team more than $1,750 for their own room each season.

Did improvements after 2023 survey take effect?

The Bengals were chastised in the previous report for not providing players with three meals on Wednesdays – typically the busiest day of the NFL workweek during the regular season. That changed in 2023, but they are still one of two teams that does not supply three square meals a day for players and received a F nonetheless.

Arizona started providing daycare and a small family room and also stopped the practice of charging players for dinner. The Cardinals climbed to 27th overall after finishing last year’s survey 31st.

Cowboys fall

Dallas fell from fifth in 2022 to 12th in 2023. Players continued to give high marks to the locker room, weight room and head coach Mike McCarthy. But the problem for Dallas is in the training room. In total, 62% of players said they felt they received adequate one-on-one attention from the training staff, which ranked 30th in the league.

Jaguars biggest climbers

The survey made it obvious Jaguars players appreciate the upgraded workplace, as the organization opened a new training facility before last season. Without rats running around – a unanimous complaint in the previous year's report – Jacksonville jumped from 28th in 2022 to fifth in 2023.

Bill Belichick

Head coaches were graded on how efficient they were with the players’ time and how willing they were to listen to the locker room. Only 55% of New England Patriots players felt that former head coach Bill Belichick was efficient with their time and that he rarely listened to them. He ranked 31st overall in both categories.

The only coach who graded out worse? Belichick’s former protégé, Josh McDaniels, who was fired by the Las Vegas Raiders in the middle of the season.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: NFLPA team report cards 2024: Key takeaways from players' survey