For a few hours Sunday the buzz of the NFL was whether the Cleveland Browns were really going to interview former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice for the open head coaching position. While the team and Rice may have shot the whole thing down a couple of hours later what made the whole idea plausible was Rice's love for the team she shared with News 5 back in 2010.
"As a little girl growing up in Birmingham we had no team and my Dad had been a football player, football coach," Rice recalled. "I was by the way supposed to be an All-American linebacker named John, and when he got a girl he taught me all about the sport."
With the Browns lead by Head Coach Paul Brown and Running back Jim Brown consistently in the championship chase they were very often the team that got televised nationally. "The Browns were the team that we got on TV most often and I became just bedrock Cleveland Browns fan and I am to this day a Cleveland Browns fan."
She's never passed on the chance to let everyone know it. Rice has stopped by the Browns training facility in Berea several times over the years while in Cleveland remarking after a visit in 2004 "I've been to a lot of great places in my life, I have been to the Great Wall of China and to the Kremlin and to the ruins of Rome," she recalled. "But yesterday I went to the Browns workout facility, that was worth the trip."
In 2012 while covering the Republican National Convention in Tampa I got a call stating that Secretary Rice wanted to talk but she would be available with one condition. That normally meant there was something the interviewee did not want to talk about but that was not the case here. The condition was that in addition to the political topics I wanted to cover, she wanted to make sure that we had time to talk about the Browns.
The team that year had after all drafted running back Trent Richardson out of Rice's home state of Alabama and she was high on his prospects and those of quarterback Brandon Weeden, she also added: "I think Pat Shurmur's a fine coach."
Before you criticize her talent evaluation it should probably be pointed out that though Shurmur would go 5-11 that season before being fired, those five wins still remain more than the team has been able to string together over the last three years.
Rice responded Sunday to the speculation on Facebook saying "I love my Browns -- and I know they will hire an experienced coach to take us to the next level. 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.
BTW -- 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.'" she added.