The Pittsburgh Steelers are an organization which prides itself on being a place free agents would choose over other teams. A team where players might take less money to go and compete with an historic franchise.
For several seasons players have been polled on which coach they would like to play for, and Mike Tomlin is always at, or near, the top of this list. However, when the NFL Players Association (NFLPA) recently released Team Report Cards, the results were interesting.
Before getting to the Steelers’ grades, here is how the NFLPA collected the data:
One of our core jobs as a union is to improve the overall working conditions for our players, which includes the daily experience of players at the team facilities away from the lights and cameras.
1,300 of our players provided information to share with one another about their current club, to not only help them make important career decisions, but also help raise standards across the league.
Our goals were to highlight positive clubs, identify areas that could use improvement, and highlight best practices and standards. To learn more about the background of this initiative, read a note from President JC Tretter here.
When you look at the process, it is now time to talk about what grades the Steelers received from those who were surveyed. Let’s just say some of these grades were less than kind, as it reflects how players feel about the team/organization.
Treatment of Families: D-
Weight Room: C
Strength Room: A-
Training Room: D-
Training Staff: B+
Locker Room: D+
If you are like me, when you read the above grades, you asked the purpose of these grades? And what was the underlying reason why they would make them public just under two weeks before the start of free agency?
Well, the NFLPA tried to explain their reasoning:
DURING THE LAST TWO YEARS, THE BOARD OF REPRESENTATIVES HAS DISCUSSED WAYS TO IMPROVE THE INFORMATION AVAILABLE TO FREE AGENTS MAKING DECISIONS ABOUT THEIR PROSPECTIVE CLUBS AND DECIDED TO PURSUE THE DEVELOPMENT OF “CLUB REPORT CARDS” THAT, WHILE NOT A SCIENTIFIC SURVEY, WOULD REPORT THE QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE OPINIONS OF NFL PLAYERS ABOUT THEIR RESPECTIVE CLUBS.
IN CONNECTION WITH THAT GOAL, QUESTIONS WERE SENT TO EVERY PLAYER ON THE 2022 TEAM ROSTERS ASKING THEM THEIR OPINIONS ABOUT THEIR CLUB’S FACILITIES, CERTAIN CLUB PERSONNEL/COACHES, AND OTHER WORK-RELATED CATEGORIES, SUCH AS CLUB’S TREATMENT OF FAMILIES AND TEAM TRAVEL (PLAYERS WERE NOT ASKED QUESTIONS ABOUT ANY CLUB OTHER THAN THEIR 2022 EMPLOYER). AS A RESULT OF THE CONFIDENTIAL QUESTIONNAIRE, 1,300 PLAYERS RESPONDED. THERE THEN WAS A QUALITATIVE FOLLOW UP BY THE UNION, WHICH RESULTED IN THE FOLLOWING “REPORT CARD.”
THE QUESTIONS CALLED FOR BOTH QUANTITATIVE AND QUALITATIVE ANSWERS; FOR EXAMPLE: “GRADE YOUR WEIGHT ROOM WITH 1 REFLECTING BEST RATING, 5 REFLECTING LOWEST RATING” AND “WHAT WOULD YOU CHANGE ABOUT YOUR WEIGHT ROOM?” THE NUMERICAL RATINGS FOR EACH SUB-CATEGORY OF QUESTIONS WERE TALLIED AND AVERAGED. THE QUESTIONNAIRE ALSO SOUGHT TO ELICIT THE OPINION OF PLAYERS ON SOME ISSUES THAT HAVE A DIRECT IMPACT ON THE QUALITY OF LIFE FOR NFL PLAYERS. THESE QUALITATIVE RESPONSES, WHICH ARE INHERENTLY SUBJECTIVE, WERE REVIEWED AND EVALUATED BY THE UNION AND THEN FACTORED INTO PROVIDING AN OVERALL RATING THAT WAS INTENDED TO REFLECT PLAYER OPINIONS.
BASED UPON ALL OF THIS INFORMATION, THE RANKINGS FROM CLUB TO CLUB WERE DETERMINED BY COMPARING HOW EACH CLUB GRADED IN EACH CATEGORY.
For Art Rooney II and the other minority owners, this news can’t sit well with them. Throw in the fact the Steelers share a facility with the University of Pittsburgh and it throws a definite wrench in the aspect of team facilities.
Nonetheless, the Steelers will look to improve upon these grades in the near future. But in the meantime, be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the NFL offseason.