PHOENIX – Less than two weeks before the start of the NFL’s new year, the league’s Player’s Association released an anonymous survey evaluating each team’s working conditions – and the Arizona Cardinals are in need of home improvement.
The team nearly earned straight Fs on its report card grading the categories of treatment of families (F), nutrition (F-), weight room (F-), strength staff (A-), training room (F-), training staff (B+) and locker room (F). Compared to the other 31 teams, the Cardinals rank second to last overall with the worst-ranked weight room and an outdated training room and locker room.
The goals of the study were to shine a light on the teams performing well in these categories while also identifying clubs that need improvement and educating NFLPA membership.
“Often, you see our advocacy on ‘big’ issues – like our push for better field surfaces at stadiums or standardized safety protocols that limit the risk of workplace injuries – but it also includes the daily experience of players at the team facilities away from the lights and cameras,” NFLPA president J.C. Tretter said in a statement. “Again, our hope is that transparency across the NFL can help lead to positive changes for players, which is what our union is all about.”
The lowlights of the detailed report card indicate that the Cardinals are the only team in the NFL that charges players for dinner via payroll deduction. Cardinals players also have to pay for every meal purchased at the facilities. The weight room has uneven floors and peeling floorboards, and the locker room “needs a renovation.”
The grades reflect criticisms made by former NFL center A.Q. Shipley, who played four seasons with the Cardinals. On Jan. 31, Shipley made an appearance on the Pat McAfee show and said the facilities have not changed since he arrived in 2015.
“The golf courses are great. The weather is great. The restaurants are great,” Shipley told the hosts. “That’s the selling point.”
Team owner Michael Bidwill pushed back on these criticisms during head coach Jonathan Gannon’s introductory press conference.
“There was a lot of noise out there,” Bidwill said. “A lot of it was inaccurate. I think a lot of people came in and liked our facility.
“In fact, (Gannon) and the (Philadelphia) Eagles got to be here last week and use the facilities.”
Bidwill also said the team is open to making improvements, both in football and football operations, but players doubt he is “willing to invest to upgrade the facilities, as he ranks the lowest in that category across the league,” according to the report.
“The consistent sentiment in players’ responses was that ownership does not provide high-quality workplace facilities, and Club policies reflected the lowest rate of confidence that current ownership is willing to invest to make upgrades,” the report card read.