Like everyone, I am not sure why the Cleveland Browns, the NFL’s saddest, most cursed franchise, are thinking about hiring Condoleezza Rice for their vacant head-coaching position. Sadism, perhaps, or a deeper need to be an even bigger laughing stock than they already are? A desperation that borders on outright nihilism? Total abandonment of the structures of NFL success in service to something more hideous, more intangible? A PR stunt designed to make them seem open-minded? Truly, who knows.
But what I do know is, holy shit, hiring Condoleezza Rice to coach your NFL team is a terrible idea. Being an NFL coach is a grueling exercise in lifelong single-minded obsession. Rice has spent most of her life encouraging the U.S. government to go to war, not thinking about football or earning tangible coaching credentials of any sort, aside from being a longtime fan of the team and a sport that has demonstrated its total lack of regard for the long-term mental and physical health of its players (also applies to war). Maybe, in hiring someone who helped perpetrate no fewer than two outright wars, the team is just looking to take the NFL’s respect-and-celebrate-the-troops mindset to new heights.
Now, the Browns have already denied this extremely weird and also probably-100-percent-true report, and Condi herself has said she is not interested, although she thinks women should be considered for NFL coaching positions (she’s right about that, at least, although floating her name as a novelty certainly isn’t helping any of the women who are actually trying to do this).
But I beg them to reconsider. There is so much good to be done in Condi pursuing Super Bowl glory with a hideous football team. She would be a target of scrutiny for the national and local football media. Dozens of columns, not unlike this one, would be written by blowhards, not unlike me, about how she was wildly unqualified for the position. Every decision she made would be scrutinized and dismantled, game after game. Even the slightest mistake would feed several days of talking-head chatter on any number of sports networks, radio shows, podcasts, day-drunk conversations in bars, whatever medium for sports whining you can possibly imagine.
And say what you will about us in the sports media—and don’t get me wrong, we are truly stupid in a lot of ways—but we fucking love accountability. Thirst for it. We are willing to assign blame to anyone for any reason in any context. LeBron passes up a game-winning shot? Coward. Vince Carter goes to his college graduation and then misses a shot in a playoff game the next day? Wow, my man doesn’t care nearly enough about basketball. Clayton Kershaw gets lit up in the playoffs? Scared of the moment, much? Tony Romo’s entire career? Buddy, I’ve got novels full of prose regarding that guy’s moral failings.
And no one gets this like a coach. The first thing anyone will do if a squad underperforms in any way is look at their coach and seriously stroke their chins, wondering if maybe the coach should be immediately canned. Coaches get criticized for anything: play calls that don’t work, interpersonal beef between their players, the media just disliking them because they feel like they’re not being nice enough in scrums.
It’s not the kind of accountability that Rice is used to in her chosen field, politics, where every problem is dominated by a both-sidesist approach that obscures everything to the point where it becomes nobody’s fault, really. Rice helped shepherd conflicts that have killed half a million people and cost nearly six trillion dollars and continue to go on, year after year, with no end in sight. But even in the shadow of all that death and waste, she’s still mostly regarded as a smart person who did what she thought was best; someone who can serve on the Council on Foreign Relations, teach political science at Stanford, and not be cast out of polite society like she certainly deserves.
One has to hope that the scrutiny and widespread criticism that would fall on Rice as she spent a season wearing a giant headset and failing out of the NFL hard would allow the world to reassess her entire life’s work. Stephen A. Smith would be there on First Take every Monday morning, slamming her play-calling and slowly, as the year lurches along and he runs out of new things to slam her for, he’ll begin looking back and realizing that she and the morons and psychopaths she worked with in the Bush Administration made crap up out of whole cloth to get the United States to go to war in Iraq even though they had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11. A world will watch the Browns just get creamed week after week and it will finally dawn on them: If she is doing this kind of damage as a football coach, I can’t even imagine how badly she fucked shit up as National Security Advisor and Secretary of State during the biggest military clusterfuck since the Soviet intervention in Afghanistan.
Is the Browns having a historically terrible season, which, let’s be real, they were probably going to have anyway, even close to being too big a price for a national reckoning with the stupidity and barbarism of our recent past? Sports has the opportunity here to finally do some true good in this world—to shepherd a pure and beautiful excoriation of the supposed intellectual center of the neoconservative movement. It would be the ultimate application of sports-as-a-structural-exercise, all of our nattering about character and choking finally applied where it belongs: an actual moral void who choked away an opportunity to understand and address oppression all over the world because she is a bloodthirsty incompetent. It’s time for Rice and the Browns to make this disaster happen so the world can finally begin to heal.