October 15th, 2010
12:13 PM ET
4 years ago

Wolf's pick: Condi, the Cleveland Browns and the N-word

Editor's warning: This report about former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice's book about growing up in the segregated South contains language you may find offensive, including the N-word. Rice explained she had to use the word in an interview with CNN to accurately portray what happened at a football game in 1964. Should you continue reading, we must warn you that we have left her quote intact and have included the word in the story.

Washington (CNN) – It's not every day that you hear the former secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, say the N-word. But she did during a taped interview with me that will air today in The Situation Room (5-7 p.m. ET).

We had a lengthy discussion about her new book, "Extraordinary, Ordinary People: A Memoir of Family." It's the very powerful and moving story of her growing up in the segregated South – a story that's still hard to believe because it took place not all that long ago in the United States.

Eventually, I brought up her love of NFL football. Over the years, in conversations with me, she's made no secret of her dream of one day becoming the NFL commissioner.

I asked her to explain why - to this very day - she's a Cleveland Browns fan.

It's simple, she said. A lot of the NFL teams still didn't have black players in the early 1960s. The Browns had the great running back Jim Brown. In the book, she writes: "Though Washington, D.C., was geographically the closest to us, my father hated the Redskins for their racist policies. They couldn't be our team."

The Redskins were the last NFL team to have a black player.

A year after the 1964 Civil Rights Act was passed, she and her mother went to an NFL game in Birmingham between the Dallas Cowboys and the Minnesota Vikings. It was the first time they could even enter the once all-white stadium.

In the interview with me, she recalled that she and her mom got all dressed up with new suits. They were so excited, especially when former Olympic gold medal winner Bob Hayes, playing for the Cowboys, scored a touchdown on the opening kickoff.

She then warned me that in telling what happened next, she would "have to use the word." She recalled that a white man sitting behind them said something along the lines of: "Oooh-wee. Look at the nigger run!"

soundoff (35 Responses)
  1. Carol Mid Michigan

    This Nation would be in a much better place if we had more Republicans like her. Unfortunately we don't, we're stuck with the intellectually deficient, the hypocritical, the uneducated, morally bankrupt, corporate bought off fakes.

    October 15, 2010 02:25 pm at 2:25 pm |
  2. Dan G

    Given the fact that she has well thought out viewpoints, is senstive to the needs of everday Americans, worked hard and got a great education, the truly shocking thing is that she's a Republican. Her history and bio reads like that of a typical Liberal Democrat.

    October 15, 2010 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  3. Timeonics

    The sad fact is that sentence can still be heard today, even it's by the former Secretary of State.

    October 15, 2010 02:29 pm at 2:29 pm |
  4. AC

    The words Sarah Palan the quitter offends me, Carl Rove offends me, they should also be banished from the english language. If the Democrats lose some sits and the Republican can control, so WHAT! It will still be business as usual in DC.
    So WHAT if some of the TEA BAGGERS get elected, once they have the POWER, they will be corrupted (give them about six months). Nothing going to change until we get a thrid party which is not based on RACISM. Change comes slowly to some of the dimwits, those cannot fully understand the way government works. Yeah, we want to take our country back, from what dimwit, it's still here dimwit. That's why you have the power to vote who you want in Dems or Reps, dimwit.

    October 15, 2010 02:31 pm at 2:31 pm |
  5. sonny chapman

    Fourjz: W. ain't been to The Ranch since he left office; it was a prop thought up by Herr Rove to give him a Malboro Man image.

    October 15, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  6. p.h

    looks like the reddskin got tired of loosing and decided to go with the best players just like we did with obama and i am happy because now i am back on my parents insurance again. that u

    October 15, 2010 02:34 pm at 2:34 pm |
  7. jeff, alabama

    People like Ben Ben are the real bigots.
    Bush appointed the first Black National
    Security Advisor to a sitting President.
    Bush appointed the first Black Supreme
    Court Judge. Bush appointed the first
    black Secretary of State. Bush appointed
    the second black Secretary of State.
    The Ben Bens of the world need to get
    educated and attend a school on how
    not to be a closeminded bigot.

    October 15, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  8. Ethan

    I just think it's ridiculous that any white person, even warning up front, would be in such trouble if they said that.

    October 15, 2010 02:38 pm at 2:38 pm |
  9. Dylan

    One can only elect to pull themselves up by their bootstraps if they are fortunate enough to have bootstraps. Only the lone wolf is self-made; individuals with supportive families, communities, and inherent intellect are a product of fortunate circumstance, just as those without are a product of unfortunate circumstance. We are very rarely, if ever, able to look back on our accomplishments and have only ourselves to thank.

    October 15, 2010 02:41 pm at 2:41 pm |
  10. Ashish

    We, The Cleveland Browns, also drafted the first african american NFL player, Ernie Davis, who sadly died before he could actually play. Go Brownies!

    October 15, 2010 02:44 pm at 2:44 pm |
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