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The Chiefs Hate Their Boss Too

LAS VEGAS, NEVADA - FEBRUARY 11: Clark Hunt owner of the Kansas City Chiefs celebrates after winning Super Bowl LVIII against the San Francisco 49ers at Allegiant Stadium on Sunday, February 11, 2024 in Las Vegas, Nevada. (Photo by Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images)
Lauren Leigh Bacho/Getty Images

The National Football League Players Association's State Of The Weight Room poll has always been hilarious and depressing, and now that we find out that the Kansas City Chiefs have the worst grades for ownership and two consecutive Super Bowls, we can see how this is trending: toward even lousier treatment of players who shorten their lifespans for the right to play the game. Finally, a link between the way the best-regarded entertainment in the nation views the boss and the way the rest of us do. The Chiefs are now Late-Stage Capitalist America's Team.

Much of the NFLPA's annual poll, in which players grade their organizations on the level of their amenities, is a way to kill a couple of days before the dry rot of the combine. It's conversation among the desperate—a way to keep football front and center when quite literally nothing is happening within the sport. The joy that springs forward from the Raiders players hating Josh McDaniels, which we totally get, is leavened by those same Raiders loving Mark Davis, which is stupefying.

But the lessons we learn—the levels of privilege at the corporate level and their distribution to the lower levels of the mine—are not the ones we suspect the owners themselves will learn. For example, the Chiefs' grades were D+, C-, F, F, D, F, C+, C+, D, A+ and F-. The last two, respectively, are for Andy Reid, the beloved head coach, and Clark Hunt, the evidently detestable owner, and all the other grades (treatment of families to facilities to food and all points in-between) suggest two takeaways:

  • A lovable coach with a generational player and an international pop star can hide a lot of sins.
  • Committing all those sins helps toughen the rank-and-file for the task, and should be not only continued but exacerbated in the name of deprivation for the good of the team.

That second one is almost certainly going to be the takeaway among most owners: that an F-minus is preferable to an A-plus because it teaches the invaluable life skill that the owner standing on the employees' necks is good for business.

Mostly, the results are all over the place, as these surveys typically skew toward the inconsistent. The Washington owner category is now a solid B now that Danny Snyder has been murked, but everything else other than the strength coach and nutritionist receive exactly the marks one would expect of a 4-13 team. The Dallas Cowboys think more highly of Mike McCarthy than Jerry Jones, which suggests that the rest of us are more mesmerized by a self-involved octogenarian than a coach with an unfashionable profile. 

The average score of the eight fired coaches was B+, and the average score of the 14 owners who made the playoffs was C-. The Green Bay Packers, with no owner (unless you count the author's future daughter-in-law), ranked third overall. The Jacksonville Jaguars rose 23 places by finally sending in an exterminator to get rid of the rats in the facility, which shows how little effort needs to be employed for a passing grade. Maybe Bob Kraft (D+) should infest the Patriots' locker room with vermin and disable the plumbing just so he can restore it and get full credit for being a minimal slumlord.

What we really found out in the end is the universal truth that you cannot shame a billionaire based on how they treat their workers—especially those owners whose principal qualification is having won the race to the egg. You know, like Clark Hunt, who has three Super Bowl trophies while having contributed less than nothing to the overall effort, a level of achievement only a certified failson can truly comprehend.

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