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Sunday, April 21, 2024
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Saints Say Brand-New Cafeteria Has Nothing to Do With Player Complaints

  • The team is moving training camp from Louisiana to California for renovations.
  • New Orleans says the improvements have nothing to do with player surveys.
Stephen Lew-USA TODAY Sports

Last month, the cafeteria at the Saints’ practice facility received an F on the NFL players’ union report card. It was a rare blemish on a largely positive player survey for the Saints. “They are one of only two teams that do not provide their players three meals a day,” the report card read. “Several players are looking for fresher, healthier and better-quality food. They do not feel the food program is up to the standard of a professional sports team.”

On Friday, the team announced in a press release that its 2024 training camp will move from its usual site in the New Orleans suburb of Metairie, La., to UC Irvine due to extensive renovations to the cafeteria.

This would seem to be an instance of the NFL Players Association report cards working exactly as intended, giving players an anonymous way to complain about substandard working conditions, with the team then addressing these complaints due to public pressure—even if it means it has to relocate training camp 1,900 or so miles west. 

The Saints, though, say the two developments have nothing to do with each other.

“It’s nothing against their survey, but we had it on the books for a while to improve the cafeteria, improve the cooking area,” Saints president Dennis Lauscha told reporters earlier this week at the NFL owners meeting in Orlando, according to ESPN

He was even more strident in remarks reported by NOLA.com earlier in the week. 

(Lauscha spoke to media in Orlando after the cafeteria improvements were announced but before Friday’s training camp announcement.) “I’ll say this in the abundance of respect: zero,” Lauscha said when asked how much the report card impacted the upgrades.

Other NFL owners have been prickly about the players flexing their collective muscles between collective bargaining agreement deadlines. Steelers owner Art Rooney II called it a mere “media opportunity” for the union this week.

The Saints do have evidence to support their assertion that they’re not just delivering a knee-jerk response to union criticisms: The team’s cafeteria received an F- last year.

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