- Associated Press - Wednesday, March 1, 2023

INDIANAPOLIS — The Minnesota Vikings treat their players best, according to a new NFL Players Association survey.

The Washington Commanders have a long way to go.

The report, released Wednesday during the league’s annual scouting combine, rated teams in eight categories — everything from meals and nutrition to training and travel — based on anonymous responses from about 1,300 players. The teams were ranked from 1 to 32.

The Vikings, Miami Dolphins and Las Vegas Raiders were the top three teams while the bottom three were the Los Angeles Chargers, Arizona Cardinals and the Commanders.

“Player health and safety is our top priority, and we continue to invest in our facilities, including a new practice field, new turf in the practice bubble and increased meeting room space,” a spokesperson for the Commanders said. “We know there is more to do, and we regularly talk with our players about ways to improve their work environment and the experience for their families.”

Teams were graded on treatment of families, food service/nutrition, weight room, strength coaches, training room, training staff, locker room and team travel.

The Commanders received an A+ grade and were tied for first in the NFL for their strength coaches.

The rest of the franchise’s operations and facilities, though, were rated by players at the bottom of every single category. 

The team gained an F- grade and were tied for 30th or last for its training room. Players reportedly feel the training room is understaffed. The locker room and team travel were both ranked 32nd or last in the league with F- grades. The team reportedly has little confidence in the locker room being upgraded. The Commanders reportedly have some of the smallest hot and cold tubs for players’ recover and only 35% of enough personal space in their locker room. Complaints of lack of warm water and poor drainage in the showers are also reportedly player concerns.

The report states only 22% of Washington players feel they have enough space on team flights. The Commanders are one of six teams that require players to room with a teammate before road games and one of seven teams that do not offer first class seats on airplanes for players.

Results showed three teams don’t serve players dinner at their facilities and one of those, the Cincinnati Bengals, doesn’t provide supplements or phone-charging plugs in lockers. And last season, the Jacksonville Jaguars dealt with a rat infestation.

NFLPA president JC Tretter insisted the survey isn’t meant to shame teams. It’s intended to highlight teams that treat players and those that need to improve by highlighting the best practices and standards. Then, perhaps, teams will attempt to raise their standards.

“I think the recommendations will be fairly clear when they read the reports,” Tretter said. “There are some really basic things where it’s like, ‘This shouldn’t be going on.’”

The Commanders received a D+ and tied for 18th for food service/nutrition and a C+ or tied for 22nd for the weight room. 

They received an F and were tied for 29th or last for the treatment of player families. Eighteen of 32 teams offer family rooms in stadiums where families can go with their children. The Philadelphia Eagles offer a stadium family room just for coaches’ wives and children, not players’ wives.

“The reason we want this to be reoccurring is next year, there can be no claim of ignorance because we’ve brought the problem up and it would be even more telling if these issues continue,” Tretter said. “Then that’s a clear choice and there’s no claim of ignorance there.

“It’s going to be very clear what the next steps should be. If you’re unwilling to take those next steps, I think that tells us a lot going into the following year.”

The expectation is for players who leave teams to be more forthright in future surveys. It was important to release the survey results before free agency begins, he said, because how teams treat players could be a deciding factor when mulling two offers.

“Two offers being equal, this might get a player to say, ’My situation in Team X with the same offer is going to be better than Team Y,” Tretter said.

Not all the findings are negative. Seven of the top eight teams rated most efficient with players made the playoffs.

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