Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Disney tries to figure out how to update its princesses without risking revenue, we wonder what to think of Sheryl Sandberg’s new stature as “villain-in-chief,” and Condoleezza Rice’s reported candidacy as Cleveland Browns head coach says a lot about women, sports, and yet another glass cliff. Have an amazing Monday.
• Out on a cliff. The buzziest news of this weekend was no doubt the ESPN report that the Cleveland Browns are considering former U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to be the NFL team’s next head coach.
The Browns have denied the report, but if true, she’d be the first woman to interview for a National Football League head coach job.
Rice, who served in the George W. Bush administration, is known to be a passionate sports fan and is a lifelong Browns supporter, having inherited an allegiance to the notoriously woeful team from her father. She even has some sports management experience. She recently chaired the Commission on College Basketball that sought to root out corruption in the sport. What’s more, she was one of the first two women admitted to the Augusta National Golf Club, and sat on the College Football Playoff selection committee from 2013 to 2016.
Rice’s name being floated for the Browns’ job also fits into a larger trend of women assuming prominent roles in professional sports franchises long dominated by men. In the NBA, the San Antonio Spurs promoted Becky Hammon to a top assistant coach role in June. Just last week, the Denver Nuggets introduced WNBA legend Sue Bird as a new basketball operations associate and the league promoted two women, Ashley Moyer-Gleich and Natalie Sago, to be full-time referees, making them the fourth and fifth women ever with that designation. The English Premier League, meanwhile, just named Susanna Dinnage as its first female CEO. And in the NFL in recent years, the Oakland Raiders hired Kelsey Martinez to their strength staff, the Buffalo Bills added Kathryn Smith as a quality control assistant, and the San Francisco 49ers tapped Katie Sowers as an offensive assistant.
Smith and Sowers are names that pop up in a USA Today article taking issue with Cleveland’s reported eyeing of Rice. The former secretary of state is certainly brilliant, but she has zero NFL coaching experience. The Browns would be better off, writer Chris Korman argues, considering someone who has logged real time on the sideline and in the coaches’ booth, such as Smith, Sowers, or Jen Welter, who joined the Arizona Cardinals as an assistant linebackers coach for training camp in 2015.
“It’s admirable that Browns general manager John Dorsey is openly saying he’d hire a woman as head coach,” Korman writes, “but naming [Rice] cheapens the idea. This would be a gimmick hire.”
The idea of a female head coach in the NFL, whether it’s Rice or someone else, is rather refreshing considering the different perspective she’d bring to the game. The league could use the injection of fresh blood given the high-profile slip-ups it’s suffered of late—the indifference it showed to players accused of domestic violence, its bungling of players’ national anthem protests, the flurry of lawsuits by professional cheerleaders accusing the league of unlawfully low pay and mistreatment, to name a few.
At the same time, it’s worth looking at the point in Browns’ history that’s given rise to the Rice rumor. The Cleveland Browns have been, to put it bluntly, downright atrocious in recent years, winning a total of seven games in the last four seasons, including going winless last year.
Last week, The Broadsheet wrote that, amid Brexit, Prime Minister Theresa May was facing “one of the starkest examples ever of the proverbial glass cliff”—the phenomenon in which women or people of color are promoted to top roles when firms are struggling and are often pinned with blame if things continue to go badly. (Think Marissa Mayer at Yahoo, Mary Barra who turned around GM, and, more recently, Jill Soltau at J.C. Penney.) In that sense, Condi Rice as Browns’ head coach would, at the very least, give Theresa May some decent company out on her glass precipice.
ALSO IN THE HEADLINES
• Leaning in to the scandal. Jill Filipovic takes on the reaction to Sheryl Sandberg’s involvement in Facebook’s bad behavior, as exposed by the New York Times last week. She notes that CEO Mark Zuckerberg still gets something of a pass as a “hapless ingénue,” while his COO is “the article’s villain-in-chief.” According to Filipovic, “Sandberg deserves the criticism that is coming her way. But so do the men with whom she has stood shoulder to shoulder, and for whom she now seems to be taking the fall.” Asking what Sandberg’s tumble from grace means for women more broadly, Filipovic concludes, essentially, that women are people too—not “representatives of a cohesive and homogenous group.” (You don’t say!) What do you think Broadsheet readers? Is Sandberg getting more than her share of the blame—in part, perhaps, because she’s a woman—or is she simply being held accountable for her actions?
• It’s handled? ABC Entertainment president Channing Dungey—who helped create Shondaland and greenlit and then canceled Roseanne—was the first black executive to run the entertainment division at a major network. Now Dungey is leaving ABC, part of ongoing shakeups due to Disney’s acquisition of 21st Century Fox. Her replacement is Karey Burke, from Freeform.
New York Times
• Don’t call it a concession. Stacey Abrams ended her bid to become governor of Georgia on Friday—but she didn’t wrap up the campaign with the usual speech: “Let’s be clear: This is not a speech of concession. Because concession means to acknowledge an action is right, true or proper,” said Abrams, who would’ve been the country’s first black female governor, referring to allegations of voter suppression in Georgia. Abrams said she plans to file a lawsuit over gross mismanagement of this election.
• Part of your (modern) world. Within Disney, employees and executives are debating how—and how much—to update its princesses for the 21st century without risking the billions of dollars in revenue that have been driven by the classic versions.
Wall Street Journal
MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Diane Greene, one of the highest-ranking women in tech, is leaving her role as Google Cloud CEO.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT
• The new Title IX. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos on Friday revealed long-awaited changes to rules governing sexual assault on college campuses. The revamped rules reduce the liability schools face over investigations and protect the rights of accused students, including by allowing cross-examination of students who say they are victims of assault.
New York Times
• Almost Oprah 2020. Oprah Winfrey might not be running for president in 2020, but one of her friends may be. Marianne Williamson, a spiritual guru and close buddy of Winfrey, has formed a presidential exploratory committee.
• Pulitzer pronouncement. The Pulitzer Prize board last week declined to remove Junot Díaz from the board despite sexual misconduct allegations against the author. The board engaged an outside law firm in a five-month inquiry into the charges before making the decision.
New York Times