Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers will host “Jeopardy!” for the first time next week, and said he prepared like he would for any big game — by watching hours of tape.
“I watched hours and hours and hours of episodes,” Rodgers said. “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 said he spared no effort in making sure he was prepared to replace Trebek.
“I took pages and pages and pages of notes. I wrote down every affirmative that he said to any type of clue,” Rodgers said. “I wrote down how he would respond if they didn’t get it right. I wrote down beat points of the show. I wrote down all the different ways he would take it to break. I wrote down the stuff that he said coming out of break. Literally, I studied for this like no other. I wanted to absolutely just crush it.”
Speaking to ESPN, Rodgers said that he’s determined to honor the memory of the late “Jeopardy!” host Alex Trebek and do as good a job as possible as the new host. Episodes with Rodgers hosting will begin airing next week.
“I know they didn’t expect what I was about to bring, but I was just so prepared,” Rodgers said. “I was so ready. So we get into the first game, the first run-through, there’s 30 questions in a ‘Jeopardy!’ round, and after the first 15 questions, we go to break. They say it in your earpiece, ‘take it to break.’ So I take it to break, and there was a pause, and I think everyone was like, ‘whoa, OK, this guy kind of knows what he’s doing here'”
Rodgers was a contestant on “Jeopardy!” in 2015, when he won $50,000 for a charity focused on childhood cancer research. This is his first time behind the podium, however.
“I felt like the best way to honor Alex’s memory was to be so dialed in and so ready,” Rodgers said. He added that a head producer on the show told him she was “so appreciative” of his approach. “I was ready to rock and roll,” Rodgers added.
“Jeopardy!” has been rotating hosts since Trebek died last November after a battle with cancer. Familiar faces that have stepped in to fill Trebek’s massive shoes have included Ken Jennings, Katie Couric and Dr. Oz (the latter of whom rubbed some viewers the wrong way).
Rodgers said that he appreciated the “Jeopardy!” crew’s camaraderie while filming his episodes. “So many of the people that work on the show have been lifers,” he said. “There’s so many of them who have been there 25-plus years. Alex was 36 years, I believe. The head writer, Billy (Wisse), was there for 31 years. Lisa (Broffman), one of the producers, has been there, I think, 30 years. The makeup ladies are amazing and have been there like 27 and 29 years. That was fun to hear the stories.”
Rodgers continued, adding that it reminded him of being in the Packers’ locker room. “It’s like at the stadium, where being an older guy you kind of gravitate toward guys like Red Batty and T-Bone (Tom Bakken), Pepper Burruss and Kurt Fielding. They have the stories that are the history of the franchise. Same thing on ‘Jeopardy!’ Just hearing the backstories of what used to happen on set with Alex and what he was like off set.”
ESPN asked Rodgers whether he could clarify if 2021 would be his last season as the Packers’ star quarterback, but he refused to say anything but — “not really… I don’t know that I have any updates or anything.”