While there are still many questions to be answered as the NFL investigates its handling of Ray Rice's assault case, there are already a handful of prominent voices calling for commissioner Roger Goodell to step down and an intriguing candidate to take his place.

U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Karl Rove and several columnists have advocated for Condoleezza Rice, who once said that running the NFL would be her "dream job."


Goodell has come under intense scrutiny for giving Rice only two-game suspension. After release of a video showing Rice knocking out his then-fiancee, there are questions as to how much Goodell knew when he initially punished the Baltimore Ravens' star running back.

Goodell has asked former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III to investigate the league's handling of the issue. And while any judgement is still far away, some observers are already calling for Goodell to step down.

Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York (coincidentally the same state Goodell's father represented in the U.S. Senate), is one of those critics. She's said that if Goodell lied, he "has to step down." In his place Gillibrand advocated for Rice.

"She's a role model and she's smart. She loves the sport. She performed extremely well as secretary of state," Gillibrand said of Rice. "She's a very smart, qualified woman who probably could make a huge difference in the NFL."

Writing for The Telegraph, Oliver Brown noted that Rice's diverse background could help her as NFL commissioner:

"Irrespective of one’s political sympathies, Rice has brought prodigious energy to discharging every responsibility she has been handed, whether as national security advisor or provost of Stanford University. Tenacity and forensic problem-solving are the hallmarks of her leadership. Zalmay Khalizad, US ambassador to the United Nations under George W Bush, recalls how she would captivate world leaders with little to interest in the NFL with her encyclopaedic knowledge of the game."

While it's unclear if she would take the job, the 59-year-old Rice certainly has the sports credentials for the top spot. Not only is she a professed diehard football fan, she is a member of the College Football Playoff selection committee. She's also one of the first two women admitted to Augusta National.

Two years ago, Rice modeled a Browns jersey as part of a campaign for NFL's women's apparel:

Condoleezza Rice, The Sports Fan

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