In the first of its kind, the NFLPA has polled NFL players to grade each team’s facilities and working conditions. The Denver Broncos ended up grading quite poorly across the board, which is rather shocking given the hype around the team’s facilities each year. They ranked 20th overall, but there were a lot of categories to unpack here.
Given the disconnect between perception and reality, I wanted to go into a deep dive here and try to determine where the Broncos might be failing their players and how they might go about improving that. There were several categories here, so let’s recap each.
Note: The survey was conducted in March and April of 2022, so things could have changed over the last year.
Treatment of Families
Broncos overall grade: D+ (24th)
Family support: 27th
Post-Game gathering areas: 22nd
The main issue seems to be the lack of a family room at the facilities. If so, that seems like a very easy fix for the Broncos. With as much time these players spend training at the facilities, it would make sense to accommodate family spaces.
Food Service / Nutrition
Broncos overall grade: D (22nd)
Food quality: 19th
To improve here, the Broncos need to stop being one of just two teams that do not provide any vitamins. The lack of any kind of individualized nutrition plans is also something they are lacking.
The biggest shift has already begun with the Broncos bringing Beau Lowery as their Vice President of Health and Performance. Lowery is a guy that general manager George Paton is very excited to have in the building.
“I think Beau [Lowery] is a gamechanger,” Paton said this week. “Sean [Payton] has been speaking about him since our first interview with Sean. Then you talk to the people at LSU, the people at the Saints, and he’s very progressive, data-oriented on the medical side. He’s going to bring it all together. He’ll be over the top. We have a lot of good people in our building. He’ll kind of bring everything together, strength and conditioning, in the training room, nutrition. He’s very humble, he has a great way about him. I think he’s going to be a gamechanger for us.”
Given how oft-injured this team has been it is clear that team nutrition focus has been lacking since Loren Landow took over in 2018. The shift in the other direction already looks like its happening.
Also, why the anti-vitamin stance?
Weight Room / Strength Coaches
Weight room grade: B+ (13th)
Strength coaches grade: A- (17th)
Here the Broncos look more middle of the road in the NFL. Under Loren Landow, players felt like they had a good weight room and good coaching. Although, one thing I noticed about that A- grade being 17th is that players seem to love all of their strength coaches regardless of team.
Again, the addition of Beau Lowery looks to be key here as well. Sean Payton enjoyed incredible success and mostly healthy teams with Lowery running things. Hopefully that translates over to Denver as well.
“In the 32 teams, there is always that feeling that there is a better training room somewhere else,” Payton said this week. “I watched our transition when Beau [Lowery] came to New Orleans and how the players responded. Not only just the veteran players, but some of the younger players. If you just Google searched the amount of players that sent him congratulations or sent comments, it gives you an idea how he was thought of. It’s kind of hard to have that. When you have it, like you recognize that it’s special, because he’s firsthand [when] dealing with the injuries and dealing with the setbacks. It can be a lonely place if you’re a player while you’re missing time. He’s very much respected. I mean, he fellowed under [Dr. James] Andrews. We lost him in New Orleans. We tried not to, but he wanted to live a little bit closer to Baton Rouge, and that’s why he went back up there. That’s a game changer for us, I think.”
Training Room / Training Staff
Training room grade: C+ (17th)
Training staff grade: B (28th)
About the only issue here was that the Broncos are one of only six teams not to provide a sauna for players in the training room areas. Even the “bad” ranking for staff is only because NFL players generally love their strength coaches and training staff.
Overall grade: D+ (22nd)
Only 69% of Broncos’ players felt they had enough space in their locker room, which ranked 26th overall. Pretty much everything sucked about the Broncos locker room when this survey was made last March/April, but by August the Broncos unveiled a brand new update to their locker room. The renovation was definitely met with approval by players.
I’d expect this year’s grade to be much improved here.
Overall grade: B+ (12th)
The best ranking in the whole survey was over how the team handled travel. Given the Broncos are usually one of the most-travelled teams each season, you’d hope they know how to keep players comfortable and relaxed on long trips.
These types of report cards are interesting, but there are caveats to consider. First, this survey is already a year old so clearly we won’t be able to evaluate changes made until next March when they release this year’s survey.
Also, there is likely a balance between providing every possible comfort and benefit and instilling a work-like atmosphere. I don’t think you’d want to create a full-on country club type atmosphere, but you also don’t want an Amazon warehouse type environment either. Just strictly speaking from a working conditions standpoint.
Looking over this report card and I see the Broncos likely addressed the most expensive issue that same year, so they clearly took the results seriously from that standpoint. Also, the hiring of Beau Lowery looks like it may take care of several points in the strength, training, and nutrition areas. I think, overall, we’ll likely see the Broncos grade much better next time around.
What did you think of these results from the NFLPA? Let’s discuss in the comments section below.