Marketing genius notwithstanding, I have wondered more than once how and why the Cowboys still catch the eye of players around the NFL as a marquee franchise. Perhaps you have, too, between the 27-year Super Bowl drought, the bizarre power structure, and what’s becoming annual nonchalance on the free-agent market. Yes, there is history and legacy and capital-I importance. But we’ve reached a point where the average NFL player wasn’t alive the last time the team played for a conference title, let alone football’s biggest prize. There’s got to be something bigger at play.
That something, it turns out, is that once a player arrives in the building, he tends to be treated quite well. Yesterday, the NFL Players Association released a first-of-its-kind survey in which 1,300 players graded every NFL organization based on eight qualities: treatment of families, food service/nutrition, weight room, strength staff, training room, training staff, locker room, and travel. Dallas placed fifth overall, finishing first or tied for first in five categories: treatment of families, food service/nutrition, weight room, strength coaches, and locker room. The Cowboys earned an A or an A+ grade in all five categories (they were the only franchise to score an A+ in the treatment of families category) and nabbed an A- in training staff, which placed them in a tie with Las Vegas for third-most A grades among NFL teams. (Minnesota, the only team to score an A- or better in all eight categories, placed first overall.)
So why are they down in fifth place? Travel, where the Cowboys scored a C- and tied for 23rd, perhaps due to being one of just seven teams that don’t offer first-class seats to players.
You can view the full breakdown here and the Cowboys’ report card here. NFLPA President JC Tretter says the goal is to do this every year, so we’ll see if Dallas can climb the list next year. Sticking Micah Parsons in a better seat on the team charter wouldn’t hurt its chances.