Denver Broncos NFL Players Association survey results

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Greg Penner and Broncos ownership drew the highest grade.

INDIANAPOLIS — Take a bow, Ema Thake.

She was hired last season as the Broncos’ new director of performance nutrition which marked the team’s greatest area of improvement according to the Broncos’ player survey the NFL Players Association released Wednesday.

Bronco players gave their nutrition and dietician plan a D grade in 2022. It improved to a B in 2023.

For a second consecutive year, Bronco players were among the 1,700 players from all 32 NFL teams who spoke to how they have been treated by team management through an anonymous survey.

Overall, the Broncos had the 16th-best ranking in the player survey, up from No. 20 last year.

The Broncos scored poorly, as they did last year, in locker room size and treatment of families. It should be pointed out the Walton-Penner ownership group is about to break ground on a new, $175 million, 205,000-square-foot practice facility and team headquarters. The project is to be completed in time for the 2026 season.

It may explain why the Broncos’ highest grade went to ownership, which received an A and the fifth-highest overall score. The NFLPA players survey also broke the news that multiple cars were stolen from the parking lot of the hotel the team uses during training camp.

J.C. Tretter, president of the NFLPA, said no one likes to be graded. It makes teams uncomfortable. But it has a desired effect.

“We saw teams make significant changes. I think they took it to heart,’’ Tretter said. “I don’t think they’re going to come out and say publicly they did it because we were graded by the NFLPA. We understand that, we’re not looking for credit. But I think it made a difference. I think the players felt it made a difference. …

“Our end goal, pie in the sky, is giving out 32 A-plusses across the board. That’s our hope. We’re a ways away from that. We saw improvement this year I think we can tie in to (last year’s) report cards. Again, this isn’t a shaming exercise, this is about pointing out what was done really well, pointing out what the standard should be.’’

Here’s how the Broncos graded out in various categories this year, compared to last year, according to the players survey:

Category                             Grade (overall rank)      2022 grade

Overall                                  20                                        16

NFLPA comments: It is important to mention the team announced plans to build a brand new, state-of-the-art practice facility, which is scheduled to be completed before the 2026 season. The survey responses reflect a belief the Broncos ownership group is willing to invest in the facilities since they purchased the team, as evidenced by choosing to fully replace the field for the final game of the 2022 season.

An improvement players noted from last year was the hiring of a new dietitian. Nearly every player now feels like they are receiving an individualized plan (97%).

A new facility will correct most of the issues the players expressed, like the size of the locker room; but there are other areas that require addressing, which are not related to the facilities. For example, players feel like they lack an individualized workout plan from their strength coach and reported there were multiple cars stolen from the parking lot of the mandated team hotel during training camp.

Ownership                              A (5)                              New category

  • Club owner Greg Penner receives a rating of 9.6/10 from Broncos players when considering his willingness to invest in the facilities (5th overall)

Head coach                       A- (17)                           New category

  • 72% of players feel head coach Sean Payton is efficient with their time (27th overall)
  • Players feel Sean Payton is somewhat willing to listen to the locker room (24th overall)

Treatment of families  D+ (21)                           D+ (T-24)

  • Broncos are one of 12 teams that do not provide a family room at their stadium
  • Daycare is provided on gameday

Food/cafeteria                 B (10)                           New category

  • Rank 13th overall in food taste
  • Rank 12th overall in food freshness
  • This grade and overall ranking seems low to me. I’ve listened to several players over the years rave about the food at the Broncos’ cafeteria.

Nutrition/Dietitian             B+ (7)                            D (T-22)

  • The team hired a new dietician this season players feel is a significant improvement
  • 97% of players feel like they get an individualized plan (2nd overall)
  • Note: Penner deserves credit for expanding this area. Beau Lowery became the team’s first head of player health and performance last season. Joseph Danos and Freddie Walker were hired to run the sports science department. Thake and Carmen Spencer oversee nutrition and diet.

Locker room                      D (26)                           D+ (T-22)

  • Only 61% of players feel like the locker room is big enough (26th overall)
  • Only 69% of players feel like they have enough room in their individual lockers (27th overall)
  • The top area players would like the team to address is the locker room. Players feel the locker room is too small, leaving players with little or no personal space.

Training room                   B- (17)                           C+ (T-17)

  • 95% of players feel they have enough full-time trainers (6th overall)
  • 93% of players feel they have enough full-time physical therapists (6th overall)
  • Only 69% of players feel they have enough hot tub space (25th overall)
  • 97% of players feel they have enough cold tub space (8th overall)

Training staff                         B (11)                            B (T-28)

  • 88% of players feel like they receive enough one-on-one treatment (16th overall)
  • The players feel that the training staff moderately contributes to their success (16th overall)

Weight room                     B (19)                           B (T-13)

  • Players feel they have good quality equipment in their weight room (15th overall)
  • Players feel they have an adequate amount of space in the weight room (18th overall)

Strength coaches               C (30)                           A- (T-17)

  • 80% of players feel like they get an individualized plan (27th overall)
  • Players feel the strength coaches moderately contribute to their success (29th overall)
  • This was a surprise because the Broncos were among the three most injury-riddled teams in 2022 but the least-injured team, according to some metrics, in 2023. It may speak to Loren Landow’s popularity as a person. Landow was let go after last season because Sean Payton wanted to bring in his longtime strength coach from New Orleans, Dan Dalrymple.
  • There’s little question Dalrymple had success in his role of keeping key players on the field. Let there be no doubt this players’ survey has flaws. For instance, the Chiefs’ Clark Hunt, whose team has played in four of the past five Super Bowls, winning three, was ranked as the No. 32 owner with an F-minus. Come. On.

Team travel                        B- (10)                           B+ (T-12)

  • 93% of the players feel like they have a comfortable amount of personal space during flights (9th overall)
  • The Broncos do not require any players to have roommates before games.
  • A little surprised this grade went down a tick as the Broncos under Penner and Payton stayed in nicer hotels this year and switched to a charter airplane so there is more legroom and overall comfort for the players.

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Denver Broncos NFL Players Association survey results

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