Why Condoleezza Rice to the Browns really isn't all that crazy


Why Condoleezza Rice to the Browns really isn't all that crazy

The immediate reaction to the Cleveland Browns’ reported interest in interviewing Condoleezza Rice for its head coaching job is, “Well, that’s nuts, so it must be the Browns.”

That would explain why the Browns denied the story within a couple of hours of its appearance via ESPN. Rice herself also downplayed the report.
But one of the best tests for an idea always has been, “What’s the idea here, and what’s the harm?” And that’s where the idea stops being all that crazy.
If one considers what Rice, the former U.S. Secretary of State, can provide -- ideas, concepts, ways of thinking and problem solving -- the idea is clear. And if one then thinks about the harm -- there is none, except to the old world order.
But the dismissive nature of the denial indicates the Browns either weren’t interested in Rice as a coaching candidate or didn’t want the traditionalist backlash. In short, there’s nothing to see here ... except maybe this.
Maybe you could think of it as an interview for a different job, a better and more influential job than head coach, a job unlike any other in the sport. Think of it as Consultant Without Portfolio.
Owner Jimmy Haslam, who seems to have left the footballing to general manager John Dorsey, is trying to make the Browns less, well, Brown-y, even though he is part of the reason for their Brownsiness, and without a firm idea of how to do it himself is opening the organization to the waft of different ideas. If a Rice interview happens, no matter how you term it, it would be evidence that Haslam and therefore Dorsey are willing to cast a wide search for those ideas.
Then the hard part would begin, namely, deciding what ideas are worth considering and to what extent. And there, the Browns’ track record has been almost uniformly poor. You don’t get to be this anti-functional without a series of errors in judgment that seemed like good ideas at the time.
Rice has been offered up by the rumor mill for other jobs in her time, including NFL commissioner, which is a phenomenally well-compensated lousy job in that the 32 bosses never can be made happy, no matter what. To be interviewed by the Browns is not much of a stretch.
But being interviewed specifically for the head coaching job currently held on an interim basis by Gregg Williams is what made heads snap, because by traditional standards, she has remarkably thin qualifications. As in, she’s never coached football at any level for even a moment.
So let’s calm everyone’s fevered brains and just say she might be interviewed by the Browns for a position of influence with the club. And to be honest, the way power is devolving away from the coach and toward the front office in all sports, being the head coach of the Cleveland Browns might in fact be beneath her skill set.
So while the headline is “Rice May Interview For Browns Coaching Job,” maybe it’s better that the Browns backed away from the idea before it got real traction. Maybe the headline is “Rice May Be Interviewed For Big-Deal Browns Job.” That way, we don’t have to distract ourselves with the tiresome and diversionary arguments about qualifications and gender roles. Maybe it’s interesting enough that she’s in line for an interview that might help reverse the Browns’ ongoing comedic turn.
That beats being the head coach every time.

Warriors losing by 21 wasn't part of Draymond-Durant healing process

Warriors losing by 21 wasn't part of Draymond-Durant healing process

The Golden State Warriors are working earnestly to move The Story to the back burner. Not completely off the stove, mind you — just away from the open flame, and away from the easy reach of toddlers like us.

In a day or two, it will work. But the loose ends still need to be stitched together, starting with the team not being routed.

The primary, secondary and tertiary stories on l’Affaire Durant/Green have been done, most of the more troubling optics have been cleaned and vetted, and the Warriors now are about convincing you that it’s time to move on.

Typically, that happens with an entertaining game with a lopsided score. Thursday, though, all there was, was the lopsided.

The Warriors lost to the Houston Rockets 107-86 entirely on merit. By any reasonable analysis, it had next to nothing at all to do with the Durant/Green co-existence narrative, for example, unless the across-the-board stress had a lingering effect unseen to the human eye. The Warriors were an arrhythmic mess from the start, unable to find comfort offensively either at pace or in half-court sets, and though the Rockets weren’t exactly dynamic, they didn’t have to be. The score properly reflected the tone of the game, if not the national chat.

[RELATED: Don't ask KD about Draymond]

But if being beaten by 21 wasn’t the plan, getting The Story to run out of oxygen was, and with another day or so to let the nation head into the weekend, the Warriors will succeed.

Until the summer, if they’re lucky.

It is naïve to think the issues that clawed (well, clawed, as in excavated, polished and displayed) their way to the surface Monday night and through to Thursday morning no longer exist, or that any mere appearance of potential tension won’t be micro-examined. I mean, what other good are we?

But in the end, what we came to realize that the Kevin-Durant-Draymond Green mega-argument isn’t about now, but later. It is nuanced, it is confusing, it works on several levels at once and isn’t only about Green and Durant at all. As one example, there is the underexplored narrative of Stephen Curry, Diplomat, still to chew on and digest.

But the games always have been this team’s refuge and best advertisement, and they have relied upon them in many situations at many times. They just couldn’t do it Thursday.

For those who needed this to be part of the greater plot, neither Durant nor Green offered much support. They acted, looked and even sat near each other on the bench during timeouts as though Monday had never happened. There was no incendiary body language, the timeouts went without incident, they even combined for Golden State’s first two baskets (both Green to Durant), and in general, basketball happened. Poor, unappealing basketball, true, but basketball nonetheless.

Indeed, when Green said after Thursday’s shootaround that his debate with Durant would not derail the Warriors’ chase to another title, he was doing a little misdirection himself.

“What you must know is nobody in this organization from a player, not myself, not Kevin, not anybody else, is going to beat us,” he said. “So if you’re one of them other 29 teams in this league, you’ve got to beat us. We’re not going to beat us. We’re going to continue to do what we do.

”If this only makes Kevin and myself and the rest of my teammates stronger, that’s what it’s going to do. You think you saw something before, good luck with us now. We’re not going to crumble off of an argument.”

Well, nobody said the Warriors were going to get beaten in June, or that they were no longer the prohibitive favorites to win another chip. What was said, often and from all directions, was that this spat could affect the shelf life of the dynasty beyond this season, and that much is true. It very well could. It also might not. July is a long way away.

But for this night, the Warriors just got beat, badly, and that they have done before. It wasn’t necessarily because they are coming apart, though, but because Stephen Curry still is in civilian clothes and they couldn’t run their offense. That happens to the happiest of teams with the deepest bonds and greatest number of commonalities. The internal dynamics might be askew, but they are getting the optics right.

At least most of them, anyway. Losing by 21 is never a good look, but especially not when you’re trying to convince people that all is normal and nothing bad will happen.

How Warriors' joyful three-peat run was derailed and (maybe) can be saved

How Warriors' joyful three-peat run was derailed and (maybe) can be saved

We're about to find out whether Joe Lacob, Bob Myers and Steve Kerr can master the one thing they've never had to do in their time together.

Long-term crisis management on the fly.

Draymond Green’s intemperance and Kevin Durant’s intransigence have collaborated to hand the Warriors' principal owner, their general manager and their head coach a series of problems that require both tactical and strategic skill, short-term thinking and long-term vision-making that they didn’t think they would have to perform while in the early stages of a very long basketball season.

And it isn’t just about managing the dual thickets of Green’s and Durant’s separate sensibilities, but doing it while deciding whether this needs the brainstorming power of the other veterans on the team or going it alone, top-down-management style.

In short, this might require more than just temporary diplomacy from on high, but the on-the-ground work of Stephen Curry, Andre Iguodala, Shaun Livingston and, yes, maybe even Klay Thompson, who are best positioned to reach both Green and Durant if this starts to reach dangerous levels of toxicity.

Ultimately, this problem will be solved, as all problems are. Options are narrowed, thinking is changed, plans get modified or cemented. After all, as Iguodala, the Warriors’ keenest eye and broadest mind, reminded us, “Everything ends.”

But all the long-term issues that could have sat happily on the back burner at a low simmer already have hit full boil 15 games into the regular season, and the Warriors' front office has been playing reactive management games since Monday just to try to contain the mess to the stovetop.

In other words, this is all just about getting to June, which until now hadn’t been an issue.

[RELATED: Sources say Draymond crossed the line with what he told KD]

For starters, Green wasn’t suspended for Tuesday's game because of a long-term management strategy to cozy up to Durant and more than it was about one mangled possession at the end of regulation in Game 14. Green was suspended because he was in the wrong to go to Durant’s free agency as a rhetorical weapon, and their teammates sided largely with Durant afterward because they understood Green was in the wrong. Kerr and Myers couldn’t not suspend him without making the immediate problem worse.

That, though, is reactive. To get ahead of the issue, they have to wait out both Durant and Green while making sure their individual problem doesn’t spread into something more team-affecting.

Second, free agency will take care of itself, simply because Durant controls his and Green his. This might be part of their mutual resentment, but the NBA’s salary structure isn’t going to change just because it is inconvenient for their joint satisfaction. If this means the dynasty ends this coming Fourth of July when Durant holds an open meeting at Cap d’Antibes for any and all suitors, then that’s how it ends.

And third, this is the end-game scenario the Warriors were trying desperately to avoid -- a frantic, graceless race against time and tempers that would make last season's sometimes joy-deficient championship run seem like Mardi Gras.

[RELATED: Draymond, KD have a history of heated exchanges]

A bad end isn't inevitable, if you define “end” as mid-June. But mid-June was supposed to be the easy part, with a generational team engaged in making its piece of history a happy one for all concerned. Now, it is more stressful than any of the others, and will remain so because both players and management are walking on a field of eggshells. Durant-Green sparks a nasty detour from the happy campaign that Kerr set out for the players this year, and its ramifications have an excellent chance of affecting the entire season.

And then there’s July, when this could all spiral into a new orbit entirely, just in time to open the new gym. Crisis management? You ain’t seen nothin' yet.