The Cleveland Browns have played down reports suggesting they could appoint former US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice as their new head coach.
The Browns have been without a head coach since firing Hue Jackson following their week eight loss to AFC North rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers and ESPN reported that they were set to make a shock move to interview Rice, 64.
But a statement from general manager John Dorsey on the team's official Twitter account read: "Former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice is a great leader, possesses the highest possible character and also happens to be a Browns fan.
"I have the utmost respect and admiration for all she's accomplished and was honored to meet her for the first time earlier this season.
"Our coaching search will be thorough and deliberate, but we are still in the process of composing the list of candidates and Secretary Rice has not been discussed."
Rice is a noted fan of the Browns and has appeared in NFL apparel adverts wearing their jersey.
It has previously been reported she could be a future NFL commissioner, a role currently occupied by Roger Goodell, while she has also been involved in an administrative capacity at college level in both American football and basketball.
She would have been the first woman to be interviewed for an NFL head coaching job, though there are several female assistant coaches in the league including the Buffalo Bills' Kathryn Smith, Kelsey Martinez with the Oakland Raiders and the San Francisco 49ers' Katie Sowers.
Rice called for further progress in that area even as she ruled herself out of the Browns' search.
In a statement on her official Facebook page, she wrote: "I do hope that the NFL will start to bring women into the coaching profession as position coaches and eventually coordinators and head coaches.
"One doesn't have to play the game to understand it and motivate players. But experience counts — and it is time to develop a pool of experienced women coaches.
"BTW — I'm not ready to coach but I would like to call a play or two next season if the Browns need ideas!"
Rice served as national security advisor during George W Bush's first presidential term and as Secretary of State in his second, from 2005 to 2009.