On the surface, hosting “Jeopardy!” would seem to be vastly different from competing in the NFC championship game, but Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers approached both the same way: by watching film.
“I watched hours and hours and hours of episodes,” Rodgers recently told ESPN. “Luckily Netflix has a few seasons, and I went back to DVR. But I had to watch from a different perspective — from Alex’s perspective. I couldn’t watch it as a fan anymore.”
Rodgers added that he took “pages and pages and pages of notes,” jotting down everything from the various ways Alex Trebek responded to contestants’ answers to how the late host would take the show into a commercial break.
“Literally, I studied for this like no other,” Rodgers told ESPN. “I wanted to absolutely just crush it.”
In a recent interview with “Jeopardy!” producers, Rodgers said his primary goal as guest host was to do his best to emulate the “grace and humility” Trebek showed during his 36 years as host.
“As a lifelong fan of ‘Jeopardy!’ it is an incredible honor to guest host,” Rodgers says at the start of his debut as host, which airs Monday night. “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.”
The NFL star — who is one of many guest hosts filling in after Trebek’s death in November 2020 — filmed his 10 “Jeopardy!” episodes in mid-February. And although he came prepared, he did admit to having some nerves on the set of the beloved quiz show.
To help alleviate some of those nerves, Rodgers said he practiced the same breathing exercises before “Jeopardy!” games that he does before going out on the field. He also wrote down little reminders to slow down, relax and speak clearly, according to his interview with “Jeopardy!” producers.
Rodgers said he’s been wanting to return to the “Jeopardy!” set ever since winning a “Celebrity Jeopardy!” game in 2015, and has even thought about what it would be like to host.
“I just saw how special this environment was, and I remembered thinking this would be like a dream job — if Alex ever retired at like 90 — to come back and be a part of this,” he told “Jeopardy!” producers.
Although the NFL quarterback appeared on “Jeopardy!” nearly six years ago, Rodgers’ history with the quiz show dates back to his childhood, when he would watch it with his grandparents. He told “Jeopardy!” producers that Trebek was a voice of his youth — a figure who helped narrate his childhood.
The tradition of watching “Jeopardy!” continued into adulthood, although Rodgers’ packed schedule means he typically catches the show at a later date.
“I think probably 90% of my TiVo is wrapped up in Jeopardy episodes,” Rodgers told “Jeopardy!” producers.
Rodgers will serve as the guest host of “Jeopardy!” April 5-16, according to the “Jeopardy!” website. He’s already teased a moment from his first episode Monday night that he believes will go viral — in a nutshell, the returning champion uses the Final Jeopardy round to take a shot at something that happened to the Packers late in the season, according to ESPN.
During Rodgers’ two-week stint as guest host, “Jeopardy!” will match the winnings of all the contestants and donate to the North Valley Community Foundation, “a hub for social change” in the area where Rodgers grew up, according to a news release sent to the Deseret News. The donation will specifically go toward the Aaron Rodgers Small-Business COVID-19 Fund within the foundation.
After Rodgers, the guest host schedule will go as follows, according to the “Jeopardy!” website:
- CNN anchor Anderson Cooper will host April 19-30.
- Bill Whitaker, a “60 Minutes” correspondent, will host May 3-14.
- Mayim Bialik, an actress known for her roles on “The Big Bang Theory” and “Call Me Kat,” will host May 31-June 11.
Could Rodgers be up for consideration?
In a recent interview, USA Today asked Rodgers what would be more fun after retiring — being an NFL TV analyst or the host of “Jeopardy!”
“Not even close,” Rodgers said. “Hosting ‘Jeopardy!’”