Team may interview former US Secretary of State for role
Rice is a lifelong fan and was tipped as future NFL commissioner
The Cleveland Browns’ incompetence is legendary in the NFL. They have failed to win a championship in the Super Bowl era, have not reached the playoffs since 2002 and have won a grand total of seven games in the last four seasons. So maybe it’s time to start looking for radical solutions, although most people would think appointing the former US secretary of state as the team’s new head coach would be taking things a little too far.
According to ESPN, the Browns are considering interviewing Condoleezza Rice, who became the first female African American secretary of state when she served in George W Bush’s administration, for the vacant head coach’s position. “She’s an amazing person,” a Browns source told ESPN.
According to the report, it is unlikely that the Browns would offer Rice the job but it could lead to her being appointed to another role within the organization. If the Browns do go ahead with the plan, Rice would be the first women to interview for an NFL head coaching role.
On Sunday the Browns general manager, John Dorsey, said the team had not yet discussed Rice as a candidate. “I have the utmost respect and admiration for all she’s accomplished and was honored to meet her for the first time earlier this season,” he said in a statement. “Our coaching search will be thorough and deliberate, but we are still in the process of composing the list of candidates and Secretary Rice has not been discussed.”
Rice posted to Facebook on Sunday, saying that more women coaches were needed in professional sports. “I love my Browns – and I know they will hire an experienced coach to take us to the next level,” she wrote. “On a more serious note, I do hope that the NFL will start to bring women into the coaching profession as position coaches and eventually coordinators and head coaches. One doesn’t have to play the game to understand it and motivate players. But experience counts – and it is time to develop a pool of experienced women coaches … I’m not ready to coach but I would like to call a play or two next season if the Browns need ideas!”
Rice is not as unlikely a candidate as she first appears. She is a lifelong Browns fan – she grew up watching games with her father – and has appeared in public in a Cleveland shirt. She was also a member of the committee that selects the teams for the annual College Football Playoffs until she stepped down from the role in 2016. She was also briefly engaged to an NFL player, the Denver Broncos’ Rick Upchurch, in the 1970s. Her interest in sport is not limited to football either: in 2012 she was one of the first two women to become a member of the Augusta National Golf Club, the home of the Masters.
The 64-year-old has also been active in sports administration. She chaired a commission that recommended changes to college basketball this year, and was once mentioned as a future NFL commissioner. “I did tell [NFL commissioner Roger Goodell] when I was struggling with the Iranians and Russians every day that his job looked pretty good,” she said in 2010.
On Sunday, the former New York Jets and Buffalo Bills head coach, Rex Ryan, gave the report a cautious welcome. “One thing is for sure, if Condoleezza Rice is the [Browns] head coach, she will be the smartest head coach in the NFL the day she takes the job,” he said on ESPN.
If Rice does get the job, she would inherit a team on the rise, although admittedly from a base so deep it may as well be at the bottom of the Mariana Trench. After winning one game in the previous two seasons, the Browns have won three of their 10 games this year. Their terrible form in recent years mean they have secured a number of talented young players in the NFL draft – the worst team each season picks first – including quarterback Baker Mayfield and defensive end Myles Garrett. Both players are expected to be stars in the league for years to come.