It was going to be jarring no matter who replaced Alex Trebek. But the easiest compliment you can give Aaron Rodgers is that he was a good fit on Monday night, taking fifth place in the parade of Danger! Guest hosts who have run the show since Trebek died last November.
While we’ve seen many superstar quarterbacks change football uniforms in recent years, none of us who follow the NFL are strangers to seeing a quarterback on our television screens in a suit.
Many of Rodgers’ teammates have already made the transition to full time. Tony Romo has thrived on CBS. Drew Brees will join NBC next year. Eli Manning joins his brother Peyton on ESPN +. We’ve seen quarterbacks present SNL and ESPY. The list goes on. But Rodgers took things in a more academic direction on Monday, taking over a show that bills itself as America’s favorite game show.
For me, the second clue was the moment that made the point that, yes, we were seeing Aaron Rodgers as the host. Danger!. A contestant answered correctly Khrushchev, and the well-groomed quarterback diligently provided the full name, Nikita Khrushchev, just in case someone who scored at home thought it was another Khrushchev. And it was as natural as any of the other memorable phrases that have come out of his mouth in front of a camera over the years.
Rodgers, in its media excursion To promote his residency on the show, he constantly spoke of his reverence for Trebek and the show in general, as well as his desire to perform well in tribute. No stranger to preparation, he said he studied Trebek’s words in various situations and made sure to have the show’s beats cold, in a more deliberate way than even a lifetime of viewing from a fan’s perspective had allowed.
His Monday performance featured some Alexisms: “You’re on the board”; “Answer [slight pause] … The daily double! “But he also injected some of his own personality into the process.
It’s hard to give too much of an evaluation. Observing the other invited hosts makes it clear that this is a job you settling in. As a quarterback in a new system, to make a painfully complaining comparison, Rodgers will probably get more comfortable as he gets reps.
But it does not start from scratch. He leaned straight into the paper with his inflection that read “Fortune favors baldWhile unveiling the clues on Jeopardy! round, and offered his Larry David impersonation when the $ 600 hint called for it. He made a brief pirate impression. Essentially, he improvised it when warranted.
One of those cliches we often hear on an NFL broadcast is that some quarterbacks say they settle in after their first hit, as if that will relax them for the rest of the day. Neither contestant approached their personable host, but Rodgers seemed to benefit from the joke session, and his affection turned a bit more enthusiastic after the first commercial break.
He mostly stuck to the script, but offered himself some opportunities to improvise, a skill that can separate someone who is simply reading the clues from someone who is actually hosting the show. In the first episode of Katie Couric, she was delighted to see that the contestant she had joked with about diving was the one who correctly identified a cake hedgehog. One of Rodgers’s best moments came when none of the contestants could correctly name the bag, but as a primitive version of the trombone and Rodgers said, “I haven’t heard of it either.”
But Rodgers, whose television credentials also include a win in The $ 100,000 pyramid, a cameo in the penultimate episode of The office, an unspoken part in game of Thrones and countless commercial breaks every NFL Sunday, mixed in with the show’s familiar rhythms. its Celebrity danger! The 2015 appearance was primarily about him and his fellow contestants, with categories relevant to each of them. From what is usually the championship podium, the NFL MVP had first choice on a board that featured MVPs from Number 12 and from the Bible. To start, she chose a question about her uniform number.
Monday’s show had no such categories, instead featured Danger! classics like 11-letter words and a Ken Burns documentary on Ernest Hemingway.
Of course, the game ended with a question about Lifetime Emmy winner Fred Rogers, to which the winner responded simply with a “Mr. Rogers, ”be it a cheeky nod to the host or a wild coincidence, and probably the former. But no, Aaron Rodgers (spelled slightly different) hasn’t won an Emmy. At least not yet.
That moment, as most of the people reading this probably already know, was overshadowed on social media by returning champion Scott Shewfelt taking a not subtle blow at all to the decision-making of Packers coach Matt LaFleur. , in the January NFC championship game, and Rodgers without a hitch. Playing.
Ken Jennings, who remains the betting favorite to take over for the long haul, seems a bit more caffeinated. He has so many facts sprouting from him, and he seems excited when other people know things that he knows. Rodgers is slower, picking points for his sarcasm and dry humor to show through.
Rodgers wasn’t shy about talking about his interest in becoming the full-time host, telling Claire McNear from The Ringer he thinks he might even fit him into his current schedule as, don’t forget, an extremely successful professional soccer player. It still seems unlikely that he will get the job during his playing career. Although the idea seems less far-fetched than it did a week ago. And after nine more episodes, chances are good that it seems less far-fetched than it does right now. But if Jennings takes over, maybe Rodgers is looming over him like he once did over Brett Favre, or as Peyton Manning has over recent commentators of color in the Monday night football Market Stall.
Either way, Monday must have been a great night for Rodgers and his agent.
As coaches and GMs like to say, Rodgers is the host of the show. for now. If this is really an audition for the permanent concert, you certainly have your chance. Or maybe, in this relentless news cycle we live in, Anderson Cooper or Mayim Bialik will blow us away and move us forward quickly.
But Rodgers has spent a career showing us that he is capable of things that many other quarterbacks cannot, and it seems obvious from the way he talks about his Danger! Experience that this means more to him than any typical talking head opportunity that may be one day in your future.
One of the clues from Monday’s show was about the old adage that luck is what happens when opportunity meets preparation. The host himself may have been lucky enough to be presented with this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to star in his favorite TV show, but he seems poised to make the most of it.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.