Reimer: Browns interviewing Condoleezza Rice for head coaching job would be historically stupid, and downright cynical

Alex Reimer
November 18, 2018 - 8:32 pm

It doesn’t look like the Browns will consider former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for their head coaching vacancy after all. Cleveland general manager John Dorsey denied Adam Schefter’s shocking report Sunday and Rice refuted the story as well. That is for the best, because let’s not mince words: considering Rice for an NFL head coaching vacancy would be one of the stupidest moves in professional sports history, and her gender has nothing to do with it. Rice has not spent one second coaching football at any level. The idea of putting her in charge of Baker Mayfield’s future and development is downright madness.

On Sunday morning, Schefter reported the Browns want to speak with Rice about their head coaching position. In the piece, Schefter lists off Rice’s qualifications for the job, which include her lifelong Browns fandom and work as one of the inaugural members of college football’s useless playoff selection committee. As an avowed liberal, it is tempting for me to also make a smarmy comment about Rice’s role in propagating the lies that led us to invade Iraq under false pretenses, but I will leave that alone for now. 

Most insultingly, Schefter ties the Browns’ supposed interest in Rice to the rise of women decision-makers in male professional sports, such as Spurs assistant coach Becky Hammond, Bills quality control assistant Kathryn Smith, 49ers offensive assistant Katie Sowers and Raiders strength coach Kelsey Martinez. Of course, all four of those women have worked their way up through the coaching ranks. Rice, meanwhile, starred in a weird 2012 NFL ad campaign alongside Melania Trump.

“I do hope that the NFL will start to bring women into the coaching profession as position coaches and eventually coordinators and head coaches,” Rice wrote in response to ESPN’s report. “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.”

In recent years, Rice’s name has occasionally been floated as a successor to perpetually embattled NFL commissioner Roger Goodell. Schefter says the Browns may consider Rice for an advisor role, explaining their reported desire to sit down with her. 

But the Browns could interview Rice for a front office role without dragging her into their coaching search. Unless, of course, Cleveland owner Jimmy Haslam has a cynical reason for floating Rice’s name as a head coaching candidate. Interviewing her would satisfy the Rooney Rule, which mandates at least one minority must be considered for all head coaching vacancies. It would be a twisted way for Cleveland to satisfy the requirement, while not actually considering anybody of color for the position.

Outside of deception, however, there’s no compelling reason to argue for Rice to transition from the State Department to NFL sidelines. There are plenty of women with football backgrounds who would be able to bring a refreshing change of perspective to the male-dominated head coaching position. Rice is not one of them. 

The idea is a stunt, and thankfully, it doesn’t look like the Browns will follow through.