How Dallas Cowboy and Houston Texan players graded their organizations

The NFLPA released its survey results of not only Dallas and Houston but all 32 teams

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones speaks during a news conference with Pro Football Hall of Fame coach Jimmy Johnson prior to an NFL football game between the Cowboys and the Detroit Lions, Saturday, Dec. 30, 2023, in Arlington, Texas. Johnson will be inducted into the team's ring of honor during a halftime ceremony. (AP Photo/Sam Hodde) (Sam Hodde, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press All Rights Reserved)

SAN ANTONIO – What does it take to win a Super Bowl?

It takes a lot of really good players, a coaching staff that can bring out the best in those players and an organization willing to pay for bringing in good players and good coaches.

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The Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans have one thing in common this century: neither franchise has won or been on the doorstep of playing in a Super Bowl.

Despite the lack of on-field success, how do players rate their experiences playing for the Cowboys and Texans? Surprisingly, pretty well.

Report cards? What is this, grade school?

The National Football League Players Association released its second-ever team report cards for the 2023 season on Wednesday. According to NFLPA president and Cleveland Browns center J.C. Tretter, the report cards serve as a kind of “‘Free Agency Guide’ that would illuminate what the daily experience is for players and their families at each team.”

Response for last year’s report cards was modest. Tretter said more than 1,300 players, or approximately 60% of the league, participated in the survey. The team surveys seemingly made a positive impact league-wide because 1,706 active players, or 77% of the league, filled out responses this year.

The players evaluated their own organization by several key factors: its treatment of players’ families, food/cafeteria quality, nutritionist/dietician quality, locker room conditions, training room conditions, weight room conditions, training staff capabilities, quality of the team’s strength coaches, travel accommodations, quality of each head coach and quality of each owner.

Each player assigned a letter grade ranging from an A+ grade, indicating the very best a team has to offer, to an F- grade, indicating the very worst a team has to offer.

How did the Dallas Cowboys do?

Owner Jerry Jones and the Dallas Cowboys may seem like they only care about keeping a moderately good football team in the headlines, but this year’s survey indicates that, for the most part, Cowboy players like playing for the Cowboys.

Dallas checked in at No. 12 overall out of 32 in the survey. Players highlighted the team’s facilities (locker room: A; weight room: A) and head coach Mike McCarthy (grade A) as a person players enjoy playing for. They also indicated how well the organization treats players’ families (grade A-), the quality of its strength coaches (grade B+) and how food and dieting best suits each player (food/cafeteria quality: B, nutritionist/dietician: B).

Cowboys weren’t exactly enthusiastic about everything the team provided. Two areas in need of serious improvement are the organization’s training room (grade C-) and training staff, whose D+ grade is tough to stomach. According to the survey, only 62% of Cowboy respondents felt they received enough one-on-one treatment from the training staff.

Traveling on the road appears to be another headache for Cowboy players. Only 72% of players felt they had “a comfortable amount of personal space during flights,” the survey said. Additionally, the Cowboys are one of seven NFL teams that require some players to have roommates the night before a game.

Dallas lost all five of its regular season games on the road in 2023. Maybe there’s a connection here.

How did the Houston Texans do?

The start of the 2020s did anything but roar for the Houston Texans, who rolled off an impressively futile run of four different head coaches in the first three seasons of the decade.

However, it looks like the franchise may be turning a corner. The Texans hired DeMeco Ryans to be its head coach, drafted a quarterback in C.J. Stroud who might be on the verge of superstardom and qualified for the AFC Divisional Round of the playoffs this past season.

Based on the survey, the Texans came in at No. 7 overall out of 32 teams. Players offered rave reviews of the team’s cafeteria food (grade A-) and dietary advice (grade A-). The survey said that the Texans are the only team in the NFL that “had every player feel they received an individualized plan from their dietician.”

The aforementioned Ryans, a former Houston Texan player, showed himself to be a cerebral coach players wouldn’t mind going into the trenches for (grade A-).

The training room and training staff were also a source of pride for players. Over 90% of players felt the team had enough full-time trainers, enough full-time physical therapists, enough hot tub space, enough cold tub space and received enough one-on-one treatment. One area for improvement: Players would like to see the team add a sauna and/or steam room, which according to the survey, are both “standard at nearly every other facility in the League.”

Texans players who responded to the survey did not grade any category listed as anything worse than a B-.

What the survey can do

There has been some positive organizational change caused by the NFLPA releasing its report card information to players and the public. The Jacksonville Jaguars’ overall grade was ranked 28th out of 32 last year, in part, due to players reporting a rat infestation at EverBank Stadium, the team’s home stadium. This year, the Jaguars’ grade jumped to fifth overall after the team upgraded its facilities over the last calendar year.

On the other hand, great on-field success isn’t always the best indicator of a well-run organization. Players ranked the Kansas City Chiefs, who earlier this month won their third Super Bowl title in the last five years, 31st overall out of 32. According to the survey, head coach Andy Reid was voted as the lone positive while players lamented the team’s lack of “quality care” and “out-of-date facilities.”

If the survey is teaching a lesson, the lesson is: What you see might not be what you get.

A full list of letter grades and rankings for each NFL team can be found here.

About the Author

Nate Kotisso joined KSAT as a digital journalist in 2024. He previously worked as a newspaper reporter in the Rio Grande Valley for more than two years and spent nearly three years as a digital producer at the CBS station in Oklahoma City.

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