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Condi for NFL Commissioner? Not as farfetched as you might think

Condoleezza Rice
Condoleezza Rice

In a 2002 interview with the New York Times, Condoleezza Rice, who was at that time George W. Bush’s national security adviser, said she wanted to be commissioner of the National Football League.

She was dead serious.

“That’s absolutely right,” she said when asked about the job, “though not immediately and not before Paul Tagliabue is ready to step down.”

Tagliabue left the NFL’s top job in 2006 and was succeeded by Roger Goodell. More on him in a minute.

“I think it would be a very interesting job because I actually think football, with all due respect to baseball, is a kind of national pastime that brings people together across social lines, across racial lines. And I think it’s an important American institution,” Rice continued.

“I really consider myself a student of the game. I find the strategy and tactics absolutely fascinating. I find the evolution of the game really interesting. Again, as it relates to military history. Military history has swung back and forth between advantage to the offense and advantage to the defense. When the offense has the advantage, then a new technology will come along that will temporarily give the defense the advantage and vice versa. Football has that kind of pattern, too.”

Rice told the Times that she tends to focus on the offensive line and secondary the most, “two areas where tactics are paramount,” but her favorite players at the time were all running backs: Marshall Faulk, Emmitt Smith and Corey Dillon.

A few years after the Times interview, Rice went on to become the 66th Secretary of State before leaving government work and proving her football ambitions to be more than just a dream.

As Stanford provost, she “oversaw the university’s athletic budget and was ultimately responsible for hiring the football coach.”

She recently landed a slot on the prestigious College Football Selection Committee, the 13-member panel tasked with choosing the four teams who will participate in the first-ever College Football Playoff. She’s the only female member of the committee.

So how exactly did she become such an avid fan and student of the game? It pretty much comes with the territory where she grew up — Sweet Home Alabama. She learned the game under her father, John, a high school football coach in Birmingham.

“I was supposed to be his all-American linebacker,” she said. “He had already bought the football, so when I was born a girl, he decided he had to teach me about football instead.”

As interesting as the Times interview was, it has rarely been mentioned since it was published over a decade ago.

But in the wake of the Ray Rice (no relation) domestic violence scandal and with the leadership of current NFL commissioner Roger Goodell being called into question, Condoleezza Rice’s name is being floated as a legitimate candidate to come in and save the league and its tattered reputation.

The Washington Post went so far as to publish an article titled, “Condi Rice: The one person who could save the NFL.”

“It’s an institution in dire need of her help,” the Post’s Jonathan Capehart wrote in conclusion.

Of course, before it gets to that point, Goodell would have to step down, something that he has shown no intention of doing.

But in the age of social media when people dumping buckets of water on their head can raise $100 million, the movement for Goodell’s ouster could be just around the corner if he continues making bad decisions.

If and when the NFL makes a change in its top job, is there anyone outside of Pat Dye who would be opposed to Condi taking the reins?

If given the opportunity, I’m betting she would do exactly what she’s done the rest of her life — make Alabama proud.


Follow Cliff on Twitter @Cliff_Sims

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