On Sunday morning, ESPN reported that a source inside the NFL said the Cleveland Browns are considering interviewing George W. Bush’s former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for their head coach position. If selected, she would be the first woman to interview for such a job.
“She’s an amazing person,” ESPN reported one Browns source as saying. But the Browns so far are denying she is under consideration. “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,” the organization said in a statement to ESPN. The Browns fired their head coach Hue Jackson in late October after he compiled a 3-36 record over three seasons.
As soon as the news broke, Rice jumped to the top spot among trending topics on Twitter. But as Rolling Stone’s Jamil Smith pointed out, Rice may be floated just to follow the Rooney Rule, an NFL policy that requires teams to interview minority candidates for leadership positions. Plus, as Smith noted, there are plenty of other women in the league with more relevant experience. He called the move “throwing table scraps at feminist goals, using that promise for P.R. value rather than progress.”
I have many thoughts about this. A principal concern that I have about this is that the @Browns, whom Condoleezza Rice and I both love, will use her to satisfy the Rooney Rule and will fail to consider any other black candidates for the head coaching job. https://t.co/9jNH9wKkxL
— Jamil Smith (@JamilSmith) November 18, 2018
Rice herself weighed in on the news on Sunday in a Facebook post, jokingly saying, in part, “I’m not ready to coach but I would like to call a play or two next season if the Browns need ideas! And at no time will I call for a ‘prevent defense.'” Rice also said that she hopes the NFL will “start to bring women into the coaching profession.”
Rice has been seen on the field with Browns owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam this season and has been a Browns fan her entire life after watching the games with her father growing up. Rice was also a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee and recently headed up the Commission on College Basketball.