So apparently, according to ESPN, the Cleveland Browns want to interview Condoleezza Rice to be their next head coach. (The team has denied it.)
It's seems sort of useless to put much thought into this one, if true. Clearly an organization that has been utterly woeful for as long as anyone can remember would be floating ideas meant to change the discussion around it.
This is not to say that Condoleezza Rice – the former Secretary of State – isn't accomplished. She is, of course. And she's brilliant. There are few organizations anywhere that wouldn't be helped by having her apply her time and knowledge to them. She does have sports experience, as she recently chaired the Commission on College Basketball.
It just doesn't make much sense to want her to work as a coach. True, the job of an NFL head coach is partially CEO. You're managing assistant coaches who do the intricate work of creating game plans while also dealing with the big personalities of the players charged with carrying those plans out on the field. It's a management job. Condi Rice can do that.
It's also still a football job, and there's no evidence Rice can – or wants – to do that. Bill Belichick, Andy Reid, Sean McVay … these coaches are succeeding because they study the game endlessly, and find ways to innovate even though it's just 11 guys on 11 guys, same as it always was. They create mismatches by understanding how their slot guy can get open if the deep safety is forced to look to his left by play action; they further create different mismatches by showing the same look a week later with a different intended result. It's all in the detail – and their attention to it puts their players in positions to succeed, which in turn gives those coaches the standing they need to in turn manage those players.
Rice could learn those things. She could almost certainly learn them more quickly than the average person. But it would still take time. A lot of time. And there are plenty of women who've already put in that time and deserve better jobs in football.
It's admirable that Browns general manager John Dorsey is openly saying he'd hire a woman as head coach, but naming this name cheapens the idea. This would be a gimmick hire.
A better thing to do would be finding the women who have already dedicated themselves to football and opening pathways for them to reach this point.
That means calling Kathryn Smith, who was the first woman to become a full-time assistant coach in the NFL but wasn't retained by the Bills when Sean McDermott became coach.
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