Condoleezza Rice may not be an NFL head coach, but the former U.S. Secretary of State is now an NFL owner. Sort of. Years after she reportedly drew interest for the Browns' coaching vacancy despite no experience on the sidelines, the 67-year-old has joined the Broncos' ownership group, the team announced Monday.
"A highly respected public servant, accomplished academic and corporate leader, Secretary Rice is well known as a passionate and knowledgeable football fan who has worked to make the sport stronger and better," new Broncos owner Rob Walton wrote in a statement. "She is the daughter of a football coach and served on the inaugural College Football Playoff Committee. She moved to Denver with her family when she was 12 years old and went on to attend the University of Denver. ... Her unique experience and extraordinary judgment will be a great benefit to the group and the Broncos organization."
Walton, heir to the Walmart fortune, just purchased the Broncos from the estate of the late Pat Bowlen this offseason for a record $4.65 billion. His Walton-Penner ownership group also includes his daughter, Carrie Walton Penner; son-in-law, Greg Penner; and businesswoman Mellody Hobson, currently the chairwoman for Starbucks Corporation.
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Rice has been loosely linked to the NFL since 2018, when ESPN reported the Browns were hoping to interview the former national security advisor, a lifelong Browns fan, for their head coaching job. Rice hasn't denied Cleveland expressed interest when asked recently about the connection, including during a 2021 appearance on Peyton and Eli Manning's "Monday Night Football" broadcast, but indicated she had no interest in coaching.
"It is an honor to be part of this ownership group," Rice said in a statement issued to CBS Sports. "Football has been an integral part of my life since the moment it was introduced to me, and I am thrilled to be a part of the Broncos organization today. I spent much of my younger years in Denver, so to be able to combine my love of the game with my love for this great city and team is an adventure of a lifetime and a great opportunity."
Rice's father, John Wesley Rice Jr., was a high school football coach in Birmingham, Alabama. Rice herself is best known for serving as the country's first African-American female Secretary of State under President George W. Bush from 2005-2009. She was America's first female national security advisor from 2001-2005, as well as the Provost of Stanford University from 1993-1999.