ARIZONA CARDINALS

The 2024 NFLPA report card grades don’t disappoint

Mar 1, 2024, 5:45 AM

President John Mara of the New York Giants speaks with President Michael Bidwill of the Arizona Car...

President John Mara of the New York Giants speaks with President Michael Bidwill of the Arizona Cardinals before the game at State Farm Stadium on September 17, 2023 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Report cards get your attention. They can land you in detention. They have the power to shame billionaires.  

The NFL team report card is proof. 

This new pigskin tradition – a damning document published annually by the NFLPA and based on anonymous responses from over 1,700 players – is full of innuendo, gossip and juicy details. 

Did you know that last year’s survey prompted the Jaguars to clean up their rodent infestation, where rats were often found at the bottom of laundry hampers? Or how it motivated the Chiefs to give their players locker room chairs with actual lumbar support for their backs? 

The 2024 survey doesn’t disappoint.

Apparently, the Dolphins are pampered like and fed like kings. They are also a very soft team when exposed to harsh elements in the postseason. Coincidence? 

The Chiefs are reigning NFL champions, a team that rolled through the postseason with a sturdy heart indomitable spirit. They have won three Super Bowls in five years and could become the first franchise in history to threepeat. Yet the Chiefs received “F” marks in quality of locker room, training staff, nutritionist and ownership. Coincidence? 

Maybe football teams need a collective grievance to rally behind, galvanized by a lack of respect from within. 

Former Cardinals defenseman and NFL superstar J.J. Watt said the NFLPA survey is considered one of the most important assignments a football player receives all year. And yet 23% of the NFLPA declined to participate in the survey entirely.   

They are probably the same players who hide their concussions and injuries, even to their own detriment. After all, this remains a league where the average career lasts 3.3 years, and 78% of its players are struggling financially just three years after retirement. We do not fully appreciate the silent desperation of those hanging around the edges of an NFL roster. 

Strangely, the NFLPA report card was extremely friendly to NFL head coaches, where 18 of 32 received at least an A-minus; where 29 received at least a B-minus; and where only three coaches received a “C” or lower. Only Josh McDaniels earned a ‘D.’

The favorable grades suggest the quality of head coaches in the NFL is at an all-time high, a new generation that realizes they must care about and collaborate with modern-day players. Who understand that screaming and tyranny is no longer a sound strategy. And maybe it reflects the kinship and respect among coaches and players who actually share a battlefield when fur is flying.   

Or maybe a majority of players know better than to criticize the head coach, even under the shield of anonymity. 

Finally: one NFL reporter found that owners who purchase NFL teams generally rank better than those who inherit NFL teams. The implication is that those who purchase NFL teams are high achievers who know how to lead and build empires; while those who inherit teams are more prone to dysfunction, meddling and frugality.

The four lowest scores on the ownership report card belong to the inheritors: the Buccaneers (D-minus), Cardinals (F), Steelers (F), and Chiefs (F). This represents an ongoing problem for Michael Bidwill, one of the biggest losers in the inaugural NFLPA report in 2023.

There was a time when Bidwill was considered among the new guard of player-friendly owners, when he frequently served as private pilot for injured players and those dealing with family emergencies, when the Cardinals were considered a launching-pad franchise and a destination place for free agents. The latest report is proof our NFL owner must improve as much as the football team he employs.

Reach Bickley at dbickley@arizonasports.com. Listen to Bickley & Marotta weekdays from 6 – 10 a.m. on Arizona Sports.

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The 2024 NFLPA report card grades don’t disappoint