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NFL report cards greatest hits: Sewage leaks, shower bugs, poor bathroom ventilation and other nuggets

The NFL Players Association's second annual club report cards on workplace conditions were released on Wednesday and there were some surprising grades and a few that probably confirmed prior assumptions.

The Miami Dolphins, Minnesota Vikings, Green Bay Packers, Philadelphia Eagles and Jacksonville Jaguars were at the top of the overall rankings. Meanwhile, the Pittsburgh Steelers, New England Patriots, Los Angeles Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs, and Washington Commanders were at the bottom.

Within each individual team’s report card were notes for 11 different categories, including grades on ownership, the head coach, travel, and facilities, among others. There were 1,706 players who participated between Aug. 26 and Nov. 16.

Some of the notes were quite interesting. The Yahoo Sports team combed through all 32 team report cards and found a few interesting nuggets of feedback players gave as they assessed their own teams.

LOCKER ROOM

The locker room is the players’ sanctuary — the place to hang out after practices and games (before the media barges in) to feel relaxed in the comfort of teammates.

You would think owners would ensure that what basically amounts to a player’s office would be a quality area worthy of their time. But several teams received poor grades for their locker rooms, and some of the comments are quite eye-opening.

Several Atlanta Falcons (Grade: F) players would like to see more space and bigger lockers. Others have a specific request.

"Some feel more toilets are needed and ventilation in the bathroom itself is poor."

A bathroom that is used by 300-pound adults on a regular basis featuring poor ventilation is something no person should deal with on a regular basis.

A top-notch bathroom requires top-notch maintenance and cleaning. Some NFL teams don’t quite prioritize those two things.

Take the Cincinnati Bengals (Grade: D+), for example. According to players, "half of the showers in their locker room don't function properly, lacking either warm water or sufficient water pressure."

Can you imagine Joe Burrow walking out of the locker room after taking a shower with low water pressure looking like Kramer and Newman from "Seinfeld?"

"They also mention persistent plumbing issues, leaving them with only five functioning toilets for the entire team."

Just a note here: Forbes had the Bengals with $498 million in revenue in 2023, so you can understand why they could only have five toilets available.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Grade: C-) were not the only inhabitants of their locker room. Players discovered they were occupying shared facilities.

"The players say the locker room is not clean, constantly smelly and has a persistent bug issue in the showers. They also mention that the sauna is dirty and/or moldy, small and constantly breaking down."

How many players just started driving home to shower after practices and games?

The Commanders (Grade: F-) continue giving the football world material as players cited "multiple sewage leaks this season."

Multiple. Sewage. Leaks.

The back-to-back Super Bowl champion Chiefs (Grade: F) were a surprise to be found near the bottom of a number of categories, but as the report card explains the team was promised a full locker room renovation after the 2022 season but, as NFLPA president J.C. Tretter explained (via Brooke Pryor), the team was told they "went too far in the playoffs" and there was no time for changes.

"Sorry, Patrick. That Super Bowl ring cost you guys a new Bowflex machine."

We can’t be too hard on Chiefs ownership. They did make one addition to the locker room for 2023.

"The good news is that after many years, the team finally provided actual chairs for players to use at their lockers."

Good to hear 50-plus massive human beings no longer had to squeeze into the tiny space their locker room stalls provide.

OWNERSHIP

We already know what Carolina Panthers (Grade: D) owner David Tepper is capable of. So it's really no surprise that in the grass versus turf debate, Tepper went against the wishes of the players he pays millions of dollars.

"The major factor in this score was David Tepper's decision to change their home stadium from grass to turf while 100% of the players said they prefer to play on grass."

HEAD COACH

Bill Belichick (Grade: B-) is known for his demanding style, but when you're winning Super Bowls that approach is accepted. When you're not even making the playoffs anymore? Well, the Patriot Way™ doesn't always work.

According to players, only 55% of them felt the former Patriots head coach “was efficient with their time” and that he “was rarely willing to listen to the locker room.”

Patriots team owner Robert Kraft doesn't escape from criticism either. Both he and Belichick ranked 27th in the NFL at their positions, with majority of the weight of player feedback focusing on commitment to invest in facilities.

Former Raiders coach Josh McDaniels (Grade: D) was the lowest-ranked head coach in this report and the least likely to listen to his players, per the report. No wonder Las Vegas Raiders players were living it up after he was fired and Antonio Pierce was brought in.

TREATMENT OF FAMILIES

Many of the responses from players for this category sought better daycare facilities for their children and the ability for their families and friends to receive pregame field passes. New York Jets (Grade: D-) players can't acquire such passes to hand out, but the team's corporate partners can.

Then you have the Cleveland Browns (Grade: D-), who set up their postgame family meet-up area in a tent in the parking lot. That can't be comfortable for anyone in December.

But the Browns didn’t stop there. In an entry that caused a double-take, players reported that, “Early in the season, the team was not allowing players who had been carted off the field with a significant injury to contact their wives or loved ones from the locker room to let them know how they were doing.”

That’s absurd. Fortunately, the use of “early in the season” makes us wonder if the policy was changed.

Going back to the daycare topic, should players and their families have to pay to use that perk? If you play for the Los Angeles Chargers (Grade: F) or Buccaneers (Grade: F), you do.

Chargers players have to pay $75 for one child and $50 for each additional one to use the team’s off-site daycare facilities. It’s more expensive in Tampa with the Buccaneers charging $90 per kid.

FOOD/CAFETERIA

Players spend a lot of time at their team’s facility. They’re practicing, working out, doing media, and getting treatment for injuries.

They are there a lot, which means they get hungry and nutrition is vital for a professional athlete. Most teams offer meals throughout the day for players, but not all as we found out.

The New Orleans Saints (Grade: F) are only one of two NFL teams who do not provide their players three meals a day. The other team is the Cincinnati Bengals (Grade: F), who only give players that option on Wednesdays.

"They do not open their cafeteria on the off day, even though players are coming in for extra work on that day."

NFL players have specific diets depending on their individual circumstances and it's good to have someone on staff to guide them toward eating the right foods. The Chiefs' (Grade: F) nutritionist/dietician fails here.

"The major issue is that players feel like she is very rarely present at the facility."

Only the Bengals were graded worse since they do not employ anyone in a full-time capacity in that role.

TRAINING STAFF

Every football team deals with injuries, and a good training staff can limit that number and help players return as quickly as possible. The Chiefs (Grade: F), despite being an annual contender, feel they've succeeded in spite of those who take care of them.

"The players feel that the training staff only slightly contribute to their success. The Chiefs trainers received the lowest score across the league in this category."

"A number of players feel like the staff is not willing to provide support/treatment to all players."

"Some players say they are unable to get rehab done to prepare for practice and reference an overall lack of care by the team."

This might lead to some awkward conversations in the trainer's room.

TEAM TRAVEL

All teams fly private with decent room for the players, staff and the equipment necessary for each away game. But there were a good number of players complaining about the level of comfort on team planes. Members of the Indianapolis Colts (Grade: D) don't like how cramped their flights are and how "staff gets priority to sit in the larger seats while the players squeeze into the smaller seats."

Chargers (Grade: D-) players are in the group of those wanting a more personal space on flights. They would also like their plane to take off on time considering the team "refuses to send an equipment truck ahead of time, causing them to sit on the tarmac waiting for the plane to be loaded and unloaded."

Once on the ground, there are teams that require younger players to have roommates on the road. But the Buccaneers (Grade: F) offered a solution to those who would rather not worry if they're about to be kept up all night by a snoring teammate: pay $1,750 for your own room.