Former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is arguably the most famous Cleveland Browns fan in America.
Given a chance to weigh in Wednesday on the controversial Deshaun Watson trade despite the 24 civil lawsuits the quarterback faces over sexual misconduct during massage appointments, Rice was quick to respond.
“Well, I’m someone who believes you should keep an open mind until all the facts are clear,” Rice said. “I know the league is doing an investigation, the Browns have done an investigation and I will wait to see what the outcome is.
“These are serious matters. I think all women feel that these are serious matters, but I hope people get to the bottom of it and we’ll see where we are in a couple of months.”
Two grand juries in Texas have declined to indict Watson on criminal charges, but the NFL will likely suspend him for violating its personal conduct policy.
Rice spoke via video conference during media day for the Bridgestone Senior Players Championship at Firestone Country Club in Akron, Ohio, scheduled for July 7-10 on the famed South Course.
On July 7, Rice will receive the Ambassador of Golf Award, presented to an individual who has promoted the ideals of the game internationally and whose concern for others extends beyond the golf course.
Rice, 67, has had other sporting interests in her life, including figure skating and tennis. He started playing golf at the age of 50.
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But she has been a soccer fan for as long as she can remember. Growing up in Birmingham, Alabama, her father tutored her in the game.
“I am a great fan. My dad was a football coach when I was born, I was supposed to be his All-American linebacker,” he said. “I’m an only child, so I grew up watching soccer.
“And not just look at it. My dad would say, ‘Condoleezza, what are you doing?’ I was 7 years old. ‘Daddy, that’s a cheat block.’ ‘Condoleezza, what are you doing?’ They’re putting up a screen, Dad. So I knew the game and I still know it. I had the honor of serving on the College Football Playoff Committee.”
That knowledge of the game led to an infamous tweet from ESPN’s Adam Schefter. In 2018, less than a week after the Browns fired coach Hue Jackson, Schefter reported on Twitter that the Browns were interested in talking to Rice about vacating him as head coach.
When asked if she would have talked to the Browns if they had pressed her, Rice said, “I think they have people much better qualified to be the coach of the Cleveland Browns than I am …
“But I think the Browns found a very good coach in Kevin Stefanski and I will continue to be a fan.”
Marla Ridenour can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read more about the Browns at www.beaconjournal.com/browns. Follow her on Twitter @MRidenourABJ.