Posted by Mike Florio on October 15, 2008, 11:42 a.m. A league source tells us that an outside-the-box name is being mentioned as a possible candidate to replace the late Gene Upshaw as Executive Director of the NFL Players Association. And the below-the-radar (for now) candidate is United States Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Rice has spoken publicly in the past about her desire to be the Commissioner of the National Football League. “That’s absolutely right,” she told Mike Freeman (then of the New York Times, now of CBSSports.com) in 2002, ”though not immediately and not before Paul Tagliabue is ready to step down. I want to say that for the record. ”I think it would be a very interesting job because I actually think football, with all due respect to baseball, is a kind of national pastime that brings people together across social lines, across racial lines. And I think it’s an important American institution.” So Tagliabue now gone and replaced by Roger Goodell, the next best thing would be to run the organization that represents the league’s players, right? Given the money, the power, the prestige, and the influence, the only bigger job would be the one held by Goodell, which likely won’t be vacated for 15 or more years. Whether the constituents would accept her is another issue. The initial list of candidates, as reported by Sirius NFL Radio, contains former NFL players exclusively. Then there’s the whole gender thing; while society has made significant strides regarding such matters, the Lord of the Flies-style dynamic of the locker room has yet to display the same extent of evolution. Besides, what major labor union is led by a Republican? Republicans don’t lead unions, they break them. To conservatives, unions generally are detested as an impediment to capitalism. Then there’s Rice’s ambiguous relationship with Gene Washington, who is the NFL’s Director of Football Operations. First linked as a potential couple in 2003, Washington was Rice’s guest at a state dinner for Queen Elizabeth II in May 2007. While there’s nothing wrong with a potential Mary Matalin-James Carville arrangement, Rice’s apparently close relationship (whether it be platonic or otherwise) with Washington likely won’t cause the rank-and-file to feel better about hiring someone who is a non-player, a non-Democrat, and a non-male. Still, her name is out there. It’ll be interesting to see whether she emerges as a serious candidate.