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Steelers Receive Failing Grade in NFLPA Facilities Survey



Pittsburgh Steelers
Only head coach Mike Tomlin

The Pittsburgh Steelers ranked 28th in an NFLPA team and facilities report card, as voted on by the players, the union announced on Wednesday. The team dropped from 22nd in the initial rankings to 28th this year.

The Steelers got high marks for head coach Mike Tomlin, but received very low grades in for the club’s facilities, family amenities, travel and ownership. The Steelers players rated Tomlin as the fifth-best head coach in the NFL, but he was the only above-average ranking the Steelers received. 

Pittsburgh finished 16th in food/cafeteria, 20th in strength coaches (but have since replaced head strength and conditioning coach Marcel Pastoor). Every other rating came in the bottom 10 of the league, as the Steelers players especially disliked the locker room (30th), the team’s nutritionist and dietician (30th), team travel (28th), training staff (28th), training room (29th) and treatment of families.

The Steelers are one of four teams that does not provide a family room or daycare support for players’ children during game days. 

A majority of Steelers players said the team’s locker room is not big enough and that they don’t have enough room in their individual lockers. The NFL has continued to expand the size of the practice squad and make placement on the injured reserve easier, adding to the number of bodies on the roster during the season. When the Steelers return from training camp, they usually have to add temporary lockers to fit all the players. 

“They don’t offer what is normal with other teams,” NFLPA president JC Tretter said on Wednesday.

The 25-year-old UMPC Rooney Sports Complex practice facility that the Steelers share with the Pitt Panthers is constrained in expansion by the footprint of its South Side parcel between the Monongahela River and a set of railroad tracks, making adding onto the facility complicated and expensive.

The Steelers are in the process of evaluating their requests for upgrades to Acrisure Stadium, which could coincide with a new lease when their current one expires in 2030. President Art Rooney II said the team is also considering practice facility upgrades, but that process is not as far along.

“We’ve talked to players about post-game family rooms and things like that,” Rooney said. “We’ve got input from them. … What do players need to be successful these days? To be honest with you, we’re not as deep into the assessment of [the practice] facility as we are the stadium. But that will come. We still have six or seven years on our lease here. We’ll work with UPMC and see where we go on our lease here. We still have a ways to go before we get into this facility in a big way.”

Other requests from the players came in the form of wanting more full-time trainers and physical therapists, hot and cold tub space, a sauna, a larger and more up-t0-date weight room.

The Steelers travel received low grades, though much of that came as a result of a 2023 team schedule that had the club flying across multiple time zones four times to Houston, Las Vegas, Los Angeles and Seattle. The Steelers also had aircraft issues twice this season, once forcing an emergency landing and an overnight stay, and had their travel to Buffalo for a playoff game disrupted by weather. 

The worst grade was for Rooney, when considering his willingness to invest in facilities. He received the next-to-worst grade of any owner in that area.

Tretter said the purpose of the survey is to allow NFL players that have upcoming free agency decisions to be able to make informed choices and also to let teams see how they stack up with areas of their competition that is usually behind closed doors.