The NFL Players Association released the first-annual “Team Report Cards” on Wednesday afternoon. The Kansas City Chiefs did not fare well, ranking 29th of 32 teams based upon the submissions of 1,300 players who were on league rosters in 2022.
The “Report Card” provided grades on the Chiefs’ treatment of families, food quality, weight and training rooms, strength coaches, training staff, locker rooms and travel.
Before getting to the grades, here is the overview of Kansas City’s evaluation:
The results show that the facility feels outdated and players would like to see upgrades across the board. Only 56% of respondents believe that club owner Clark Hunt is willing to invest the money to upgrade the facility, ranking him 27th in this category.
Players’ responses showed that treatment of players also falls well below other clubs across the NFL. For example, the Chiefs are one of 6 teams that still make certain players have roommates, and less than 50% of players feel they have enough room to be comfortable on flights.
Feedback on the training room was also notable; player respondents called for a more welcoming environment, and several players had negative opinions about head trainer Rick Burkholder, feeling that he does not treat players fairly and consistently, or with personal care.
The Chiefs’ training facility (the University of Kansas Hospital Arrowhead Training Complex) could use some refurbishing (it was last updated in 2007), but the idea that Hunt would be unwilling seems somewhat farfetched — considering his recent $2.5 million upgrade to the Arrowhead Stadium locker rooms.
If the Chiefs take the information provided at face value, the shared lodging, inadequate space on flights and training room issues seem like they could easily be fixable.
It was a bit surprising to see the negative opinions about vice president of sports medicine and performance (and head athletic trainer) Rick Burkholder, considering how often head coach Andy Reid, general manager Brett Veach and president Mark Donovan publicly praise his work. Burkholder has been Reid’s head athletic trainer dating back to the Philadelphia Eagles in 1999, which was Reid’s first year as an NFL head coach.
Still, surprising or not, the fact that the report noted several players shared similar views on Burkholder may be something Chiefs brass could examine in the future (more details below).
Let’s get to the grades and other notes:
Family treatment: B (T-12th)
The report notes Arrowhead has a family room, but the club does not offer daycare for children.
Food service: D+ (T-18th)
While the Chiefs provide all three meals, only half of the players believe there is enough room in the cafeteria. The quality of food was ranked 15th in the league.
Weight room: C+ (T-22nd)
The positive note is that nearly all players believe there are enough strength coaches. (Specifically, they grade out at A-minus). The league as a whole believes it is receiving good support when it comes to strength coaching.
The negative note is that the Chiefs’ equipment room is slightly below average compared to other teams due to outdated gear.
Training Room: D+ (T-24th)
While the training room includes a large-enough steam room and sauna (according to 91% of players), fewer players feel the hot tub (78%) and cold tub (81%) are big enough.
Though 77% of players feel the Chiefs have enough certified athletic trainers and 61% feel they have enough physical therapists, these marks are tied for fourth-worst in the league.
Training Room: D- (32nd)
According to the “Report Card,” the Chiefs have the worst training staff in the NFL, with the “key concerns” being about Burkholder. The report made it clear his staff members are well-liked. The problems with Burkholder include players feeling discouraged from reporting injuries, not getting proper personal care and fear about speaking up in regards to receiving better care.
Locker Room: D- (T-28th)
This refers to the facility locker room, which the Chiefs use during the week (they only use Arrowhead’s recently renovated locker room on game days). Players described the space as “desperately” needing renovation, and they would like a chair rather than a stool so that they can lean back.
Team Travel: F (T-28th)
Only 59% of players felt like they had enough room to spread out, and some reported very few first-class seats on the charter. The report noted that the Chiefs are one of six NFL teams that make young players have roommates.
The bottom line
Based upon the first annual “Report Card,” the Super Bowl champions may have some catching up to do in terms of player experience. If the Chiefs want to improve in these areas, there is some work to be done.