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The NFLPA Report Card Is Doing Exactly What It Was Intended For

  • The union report cards are making some owners uncomfortable, but they’re getting results.
  • Patriots owner Robert Kraft immediately promised $50 million in upgrades as a response.
Kirby Lee – USA TODAY Sports

Robert Kraft hasn’t gone to school in nearly 60 years, but on Tuesday the Patriots’ owner found himself talking about his report card. 

“I must tell you, I was unaware of how bad it was,” Kraft told reporters at the NFL owners meeting in Orlando. 

Kraft was referring to the Patriots’ report card on the NFL Players Association’s survey, which had his six-time Super Bowl champion franchise ranked 29th out of 32 teams overall, coming in last for its weight room, 31st for its strength coaches, and 30th for its treatment of families. 

“The results point to club management that has not been keeping up with changing times; as in most categories, the player responses highlight outdated facilities and stale services,” read the union’s summary of the report card.

In light of the report, which came out in late February, Kraft said Tuesday that the team is working to make changes and announced plans for a new $50 million practice facility. 

“I’d be very surprised if [the grade] didn’t improve,” Kraft said. 

The NFLPA survey debuted just last year; in that short time it appears to be doing exactly what it was designed for: holding team owners accountable and enacting change. The survey results circulating heavily among media and fans doesn’t hurt either. 

JC Tretter, the former NFLPA president and longtime Browns/Packers lineman, helped get the survey off the ground last year and said the results have led to increased participation among union members. Tretter said 1,300 players participated in the 2023 survey. This past season, the number increased to more than 1,700. 

“We felt that with it coming out that we’d see changes and we expected year two to be more impactful than year one because year one was new and teams and ownership groups had the ability to say we didn’t know,” Tretter told Front Office Sports. “Year 2, you couldn’t say that.”

Even winning teams have not been immune from criticism. The back-to-back Super Bowl–winning Chiefs came in 31st in the 2024 poll, showing how ownership—the Hunt family—hasn’t improved the team’s facilities and used the team’s deep playoff runs as an excuse. The Hunt family is attempting to upgrade the stadium through public funds with a sales tax that will be voted on next week in Kansas City and is threatening to leave if it doesn’t pass

When the survey launched, it became a league sensation, applauded by agents and angering NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. 

Several reactions from a 2023 article in The Athletic show league power players bristling at the report cards.

“I didn’t go through those,” Goodell said last year.

Raiders owner Mark Davis, whose organization placed third among teams overall in the 2023 survey dismissed it and said he didn’t have any takeaways from it. 

“Those are just surveys,” Davis said at the time.

Steelers owner Art Rooney II pushed back against the survey after his team placed 28th among all teams, and he came in 31st in the ownership category with players saying they’re not convinced he’s willing to spend to improve the team’s facilities. Rooney said he prefers players to give him feedback directly.

“It doesn’t get presented to us; it gets presented to the media so as far as I’m concerned it’s a media opportunity for the players association as opposed to a serious effort of constructive criticism,” Rooney told reporters Tuesday. 

“I would say this is somewhat human nature, right?” Tretter said. “No one minds getting positive feedback. People mind getting negative feedback.

“In the world of players, it’s not really a discussion,” Tretter added. “Players are criticized publicly for how they perform every single day. Would another group, such as owners, be upset for what they do publicly on a day-to-day basis? This is what players deal with on an everyday basis so there won’t be any sympathy there.”

Rooney’s preference for in-person feedback is understandable, but Tretter says it’s much easier said than done. 

“Owners say they want feedback directly, but it’s a pretty big ask for a player to walk into your boss’s office and say, ‘You’re being cheap,’” Tretter said. “This is truly an opportunity for players to provide feedback while your identity is protected.”

Rooney later added he and other owners take the report card seriously. But the reaction in two years has been mixed, even from owners who have been graded well. 

Even Kraft, who acknowledged his lack of awareness of certain parts of the organization, complained about the report cards while discussing the changes it will bring. 

“We have to correct anything,” Kraft said. “I was not aware, even of this daycare issue. That’s something that’s fixable and we want to do. Look, the players are the heart and soul of the business. I’d be very surprised if that didn’t improve. That [survey] was done in the fifth week of the season.” 

One of the biggest improvements the union has found in the survey’s short life is the number of athletic trainers available to players. Tretter said some teams would have just four to five available, and now that number has gone as high as 15 in some places. Given football’s injury rate, he feels like all parties benefit from that. 

Commanders owner Josh Harris, whose team came in dead last, had a bit of an out as he recently took over the team from Daniel Snyder.  

That being said, Harris, like Kraft, is a double Ivy league graduate and likely isn’t used to seeing some of the grades his organization received.

“I’m not an F- guy,” Harris said. “I didn’t even know you could get an F-.” 

Editors’ note, March 27, 3:53 p.m. ET: This story was updated to add comments from former NFLPA president JC Tretter.

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