Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, left speaking to US national security adviser Stephen Hadley in 2005, is not being considered as a candidate for the vacant head coaching position of the Cleveland Browns, the NFL club’s general manager said Sunday (JIM WATSON)

New York (AFP) – Condoleezza Rice has not been discussed as an interview candidate by the NFL Cleveland Browns for their vacant head coaching job, the team said Sunday in response to a report.

US-based sports telecaster ESPN, citing unnamed sources, reported on its website that the team planned to make her the first woman to interview for an NFL head coaching position.

Rice is already a sports pioneer as one of the first two women, and the first African-American woman, named as members of Augusta National Golf Club, which hosts the Masters tournament every April.

But Browns general manager John Dorsey ended any notion that Rice, a Browns fan since childhood, was set to make NFL history as well.

“Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a great leader, possesses the highest possible character and also happens to be a Browns fan,” Dorsey said. “I have the utmost respect and admiration for all she has accomplished and was honored to meet her for the first time earlier this season.

“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 Browns fired coach Hue Jackson last month after a 2-5 with one drawn start to the season, with Jackson 3-36-1 in 2 1/2 seasons guiding the club.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams was named the interim head coach and the team was 1-1 under his guidance with a bye on Sunday. He will be among those to be interviewed for the full-time post.

Women have been hired on coaching staffs in male American sports leagues, notably assistant coach Becky Hammon for the NBA’s San Antonio Spurs, offensive assistant coach Katie Sowers of the NFL San Francisco 49ers, Kathryn Smith as an NFL Buffalo Bills quality control assistant and strength coaching staff assistant Kelsey Martinez of the Oakland Raiders.

Rice, who turned 64 last Wednesday, has attended several Browns games and been involved with US college sports in several ways since serving as US Secretary of State from 2005 to 2009 under US President George W. Bush.

A long-time professor and administrator at Stanford University, Rice was a member of the inaugural College Football Playoff selection committee and served on the panel from 2013-2016 and chaired a committee that earlier this year recommended major changes to college basketball.

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