The NFLPA began to publish club report cards this year, culled from player evaluations from each team in question. They were graded on treatment of families, food service and nutrition, weight room, strength coaches, training room, training staff, locker room, and team travel.
The Pittsburgh Steelers graded out 22nd overall, ranked in the top 10 only in the food service category. They were graded particularly poorly in the category of treatment of families (D-), training room (D-), and the locker room (D+).
Nobody with the team had been asked about it before yesterday, with owner Art Rooney II fielding a question on the subject. He admitted that he hadn’t seen the survey and added that he questions how many players actually participated to come up with the data, but he was not dismissive of the results.
“We’re always looking to try and improve our facilities”, he said, according to ESPN’s Brooke Pryor via Twitter. “We expanded the facility a few years ago. We’re always open to ideas [about] what we need to improve”. He added, “I think we have an open-door policy with our players and things that they see that they think we can improve on”.
The NFLPA’s report card noted that the Steelers are one of 11 teams that does not offer daycare services for players’ families on gamedays and are one of 14 teams that do not have a family room at the stadium. They had the lowest percentage of players polled who felt the team had enough strength coaches. They also ranked among the worst in percentage of players who felt they had enough personal trainers and who felt the locker room was large enough.
Personally, I would have hoped, albeit perhaps not expected, to get a more robust answer from the team owner on this subject. Preferably one that didn’t include feigning a degree of ignorance on the subject. Whether a positive report card or a negative one, I’m inclined to feel teams should take them seriously since prospective free agents will see them.
Not all concerns are fixable, though. For example, there is only a limited amount of geographical space into which the Steelers’ UPMC Rooney Sports Complex can actually expand, given where it is located. In order to have a much larger facility, the Steelers would have to move elsewhere or have a new stadium built in a larger spot.
By this point, these facilities are generally on the older end of the spectrum compared to the rest of the league. Some of us might still treat the area as relatively new, but it’s really not. Heinz Field isn’t even Heinz Field anymore after Heinz’s 20-year deal with the stadium ended last year.