The Buffalo Bills pride themselves organizationally on their commitment and accommodations team-wide. From those who help maintain and ensure facility operations run smoothly day to day, to the primary voices and faces of the franchise in the media, on the roster, and in the front office — One Bills Drive boasts a talented and well-regarded NFL franchise. But where would the team rate in an anonymous player satisfaction survey?
On Wednesday, NFL Network insider Tom Pelissero tweeted news that the NFLPA had “releas(ed) its first ever team report cards based on surveying roughly 1,300 players.” Quick math tells us that roughly 40 players per team weighed-in for this study, signifying a very large rate of participation.
The NFLPA is releasing its first ever team report cards based on surveying roughly 1,300 players.— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) March 1, 2023
Ranking No. 1 overall in football facilities, staff and overall treatment of players: the #Vikings, followed by the #Dolphins at 2 and #Raiders at 3. https://t.co/Twif0gYl6n pic.twitter.com/qrN1Ta6pZJ
While introspective looks and 30,000-ft self-reflection are common practices among corporations, conducting one though the lens of the NFLPA has the feeling of a progressive study unique among one of the four biggest sports in the United States.
Player respondents for each team were asked to rank their employer in the following eight disciplines: Treatment of Families, Nutrition, Weight Room, Strength Staff, Training Room, Training Staff, Locker Room, and Team Travel.
But back to One Bills Drive. How did the Buffalo Bills fare, organizationally? The Bills landed at nine of the list of 32 teams, with a couple areas dragging their overall score down. Players widely praised and highly ranked team trainers/personnel, facilities, and the treatment and amenities for player families. This should come as no surprise given the dedication to improving team facilities and social spaces. The good news is that while there’s room for improvement, the areas in need feel like buckets the team can improve on with a dedicated effort. So where does Buffalo need to improve?
- Players were unified in wanting more support for the team’s nutrition/dietician team, which is currently managed by one person who divides her time between the Bills and Buffalo Sabres. This metric scored a “C,” ranking 15th among 32 teams.
- Respondents also want to see additional trainers/physical therapists available in the team’s training room. Their concern with the current staffing there placed the franchise as the eighth-worst in the league in this discipline.
- Another area of concern is with Buffalo’s current system in place for road games, and that concern placed the team tied for 25th in the league (with a “D+” rating). Interestingly, the Bills are one of just six teams that require their young players to have roommates on the road.
Apart from the obvious goal of league-wide improvement why, exactly, did the NFL Players Association choose to conduct this study? Per the NFLPA website, the impetus was an effort to improve the information made available to free agents when making decisions about their next contract.
“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.’”
“Finally, the Club Report Card includes an overview, which is a summary of the players’ responses and opinions about the Club workplace and specifically about how players perceived Clubs’ commitment to workplace issues.”
While this study was done to benefit free agents, it can only serve to help all franchises see where they need to improve, and build off the organizational successes they’ve already established.
For the Buffalo Bills, progress might look like an additional, dedicated team nutritionist/dietician, and better accommodations for players/ team personnel during road games. What resonates most with these results is that Bills players want to see the team dedicate more resources to areas they already approve of in terms of training staff.
When considering the amount of injuries — many of which felt like they could have been prevented with better training — adding talented people in these areas could help turn back the tide against what was an enormous injury bug in 2022.
Be sure to head over to the NFLPA’s website to read the full results for the Buffalo Bills and the league as a whole.