After a difficult fortnight for Jeopardy! fans who believe in science, the syndicated trivia show returns on Monday with a new guest host: Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. The former winner of Celebrity Jeopardy!, Rodgers is one of several guest hosts the show tabbed while they search for a permanent replacement for Alex Trebek, who died last year at the age of 80 after a battle with pancreatic cancer.
While most fans of the show expect a decorated champion like Ken Jennings or perhaps the show’s executive producer, Mike Richards, to take over, you can count Rodgers among the people who feel it’s possible to play quarterback and also permanently host Jeopardy! And his enthusiasm for the gig is already undeniable. Ahead of his first episode, the official Jeopardy! Twitter account sent out a video preview of the Packers quarterback taking the stage and talking a bit about the opportunity.
— Jeopardy! (@Jeopardy) April 5, 2021
It’s admittedly a bit weird to hear Johnny Gilbert say “and now here is the guest host of Jeopardy! Aaron Rodgers.” But it’s no weirder than, say, having Dr. Oz host the show and make hundreds of former contestants mad in the process. And Rodgers certainly seems excited about the opportunity to hear answers in the form of questions.
“As a lifelong fan of Jeopardy!, it is an incredible honor to guest host,” Rodgers said. “I’ve had the opportunity to do a lot of amazing things, but winning Celebrity Jeopardy! and getting to share the stage with the legend, Alex Trebek, is something I will never forget. Alex was such a gentleman. So smart, so precise. I was in awe. And I will work hard to honor his legacy.”
It’s a lovely opening statement before he gets down to business, and one that will immediately endear him to longtime fans, even if they may root for the Chicago Bears. If you’re curious when Rodgers had time to record his two weeks’ worth of episodes, it was reported by ESPN’s Adam Schefter on Monday that he got the 10 episodes in over a two-day period in February, after the Packers were done playing football.
That timing is important, of course, as he certainly has plenty to do in Green Bay during football season. But as Claire McNear wrote for The Ringer, Rodgers is not exactly content with a guest spot. He’s absolutely willing to make taping the show and playing professional football work. In an interview with McNear, he made it clear he wants to take over for Trebek if he can make the timing work.
A lot of people joke that Alex Trebek had the ultimate dream job on Jeopardy!—he was paid pretty well to work just 40-something days a year. So I’ve got to ask—would you ever consider giving up football to host Jeopardy!?
I don’t think I’d need to give up football to do it. They film 46 days a year. I worked 187 this year in Green Bay. That gives me, eh—[pauses]—178 days to do Jeopardy! So I feel like I could fit 46 into that 178 and make it work. It would be a dream job for sure, and I’m not shy at all about saying I want the job. That’s how I went into it. I want an opportunity to be in the mix.
I feel like I bring something different to the stage—I’m the youngest of any of the guest hosts, I’d be the youngest host of just about any major game show, I bring an audience from the NFL, and I feel like I appeal to nerdy people, too, because I was a nerd in high school and got caught in that weird phase of wanting to be a jock and an athlete and also really caring about getting good grades. And at the same time, there’s not many bigger fans of the show than me. I’ve been watching it for years and years and years. I respect the show and appreciate the history of it, and also there’s my background of stepping in for a legend and their footsteps. I feel like all that combined makes me a pretty good candidate.
The math checks out here, but it would be an exhausting schedule. Those 46 days are filled with five episodes each day, and hours of prep time beforehand learning pronunciation, keeping up appearances on camera and having the stamina to make every episode great for both people at home and the contestants. Remember: unless you make it to the Tournament of Champions (usually by winning five straight games) you get one run on Jeopardy! and that’s that. What made Trebek so good at his job for so long is that his commitment to the show made everyone involved feel special in their 22 minutes of fame. It’s a tough task to replicate, especially if you’re also one of the greatest quarterbacks in NFL history still very much on the job.
The full interview has a lot of details about how Rodgers prepared for the guest spot, and it’s clear he put in the work to be a good host. It’s not a surprise a highly dedicated athlete would prepare for hosting duties like he would any other opponent, but expecting to film a lot of Jeopardy! and play 17 or more NFL games a year is certainly a tall task. If he’s up for it, though, he’s definitely got a better shot at the full-time gig than Dr. Oz.
[via The Ringer]