Monday, April 12, 2021

Aaron Rodgers on JEOPARDY

What does it say when a complete amateur hosts JEOPARDY and is still way better than Dr. Oz?  

I like Aaron Rodgers.  He’s a truly great quarterback in the toughest league there is, and he seems like a very decent guy.  It’s very clear he’s taking this hosting job seriously and really giving it his all.  But I’m sorry, it’s like there was a contest and one lucky viewer got to host JEOPARDY.  

For the same reason you don’t just decide you want to play football and they let you be the QB of the Green Bay Packers, you can’t come in off the street and host a major franchise like JEOPARDY.   There’s a reason Aaron played football in high school and college before breaking into the NFL.   

If you want to host the world’s most popular national game show you need to get in some reps in local markets, hosting… anything.  Being on camera, learning how to read the teleprompter, developing a presence, feeling comfortable, being in total control (even when it’s just a facade for chaos).   And you need to get your on-the-job training in a less pressurized situation.  

That said, I admire his willingness to take on such a challenge.  Most former athletes get into broadcasting as analysts, and they may not be very polished but they’re experts in what they’re analyzing.  Rodgers is a smart guy, but he’s not being asked to read the defense.  

This is pretty much the reverse of PAPER LION.   PAPER LION was a book by journalist George Plimpton.  He worked out a deal with the Detroit Lions to go to training camp in 1966 and become a quarterback.  Eventually in a pre-season exhibition game he was allowed to QB for one set of downs.  I don’t have to tell you how well it worked out for him.  It’s actually a terrific book and later there was a movie version with Alan Alda playing Plimpton.   At least Rodgers won’t get a concussion hosting JEOPARDY (which wouldn’t be his first).

Next week someone else will run the game.   Eventually they’ll find the right person.  He or she will know how to move the chat section along, keep the pace up so clues aren’t left on the board, be supportive and helpful to the contestants, have a sense of humor, be able to pronounce obscure foreign words, put the home audience completely at ease, and be ready to handle any technical curveball that is hurled their way.  

Six or seven other candidates will get their shot in the next few months, plus I understand some “surprise” guest hosts are also being booked.  

But I will say this — the more you see other people trying to host JEOPARDY the more you realize how amazing Alex Trebek was.   Of course if he we were asked to quarterback the Green Bay Pakcers he’d be carried out on a stretcher his first play. 

49 comments :

Don Kemp said...

Nitpick- it would help if his name was spelled correctly- Aaron Rodgers, there's a d there.

Frankly, as a Bears fan, I found him earnest but wooden.

Anonymous said...

Aaron Rodgers is the greatest quarterback ever. Before Tom Brady and Payton Manning and others fans go nuts, its not statistics or championships.
Go to You Tube and watch 10 minutes of highlights of Aaron Rodgers, then watch 10 minutes of Brady, Manning, Montana, anybody else.
with the others you will amazing plays, great plays.
With Rodgers you will see things you have never seen before. And likely may not see again -even if Mahomes stays healthy.
The throws are simply of a slightly higher caliber than the others.
Brady is superb, without question. but he has had top 10 defenses and better surrounding personnel, including coaching Thant Rodgers ever had. Even he admitted if Rodgers were on the Patriots he would have thrown for 7000 yards.Rodgers has had two completions in his career to a first round receiver. Two. Packers never invested in the things that would give him championships.
As wit Micheal Jordan, you come to the game to see stuff you might never see again.
It's the eye test, not championships.

Brian said...

I concur with the assessment of Rodgers. He has a lot to go up against, up to and including all of the people that preceded him had tons of TV experience (even Dr. Oz) and even then, the experience doesn't necessarily make you a good game show host. Drew Carey had to find out how to run "The Price is Right", which has more moving parts than Jeopardy! does.

As a contrast look at the ebullience of Art Fleming during his run, a brightness that Trebek inherited somewhat, but eventually became more his own as time went on. That is not a complaint on how either man hosted, by the way.

You need not watch the whole clip, but if you want to see something surprising, skip to 4:10 or so.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wCBPyo6lZgA

benson said...

I may have mentioned this before, but when Dan Patrick hosted "Sports Jeopardy", he says Alex Trebek was very gracious and helped him a lot. And as Dan (and Ken) says, this is a whole lot more difficult than it looks.

Mike Barer said...

I've posted this before, I think Ken Levine would make an excellent host of Jeopardy. A fan of the show and a professorial appearance.

Kevin FitzMaurice said...

Art Fleming used to leave some uncovered "answers" on the board. Ironic, since the show's pace was much faster in those days.

Curt Alliaume said...

In his weekly column, Peter King discusses Rodgers' Jeopardy! run with producer Mike Richards (who may be one of the competitors for the full-time gig). (Search for "Aaron Rodgers" to jump to that section.)

https://profootballtalk.nbcsports.com/2021/04/11/20-qb-decisions-nfl-draft-fmia-peter-king/

Rashad Khan said...

Meanwhile, LeVar Burton remains on the bench, waiting for the coach to put him in the game.

Elf said...

All I want from Jeopardy is a host whose primary job is hosting Jeopardy. Not an actor, newscaster or snake oil salesman for whom Jeopardy would be a side gig. Given all of the guest hosts so far, only Jennings and Richards fit that bill. Richards was fine, but there's just too much emotional connection to Jennings that to give it to anyone else at this point seems unthinkable. I'd be happy if they simply announced they'll run out the season with guest hosts and Ken will take over full time with the new season.

Breadbaker said...

Rodgers brings a proper sense of reverence for the show and I think his rapport with the players is often excellent. But my sense is he has two gears to his voice, a "professional" one he uses in football that is inappropriate for television, and a "civilian" one, which he's using on Jeopardy and that is simply too reserved for television. There are times when it barely registers.

Remember, too, that Jeopardy tapes in five shows a day, two days a week. So what you saw last week was his first day of taping. Dr. Oz got worse his second week. We'll see how well Rodgers responded to coaching, tape and a good night's sleep this week.

Anonymous said...

Ken,

Do you have someone that you think would be a good host?

I nominate Rachel Riley from the brit show 8 out of ten cats does countdown.

Smart as a whip.

Keith in Kalama

By Ken Levine said...

My pick: Willie Geist.

Kirk Chritton said...

I'd live to see this job go to J. Keith Van Stratton, former games show host and current host if the Go Fact Yourself podcast game show. I recommend the podcast highly, too.

Todd Everett said...

“The Chase” has evidently been picked up for a second season, so Jennings may already have a gig. Since the “experts” are all former Jeopardy champs, he can be replaced. But there is no other Ken Jennings.
Not that it wouldn’t all work out, but if Jennings left, I’d dump all my stock in The Chase.

Earl Boebert said...

Well, if we're doing nominations, I suggest Sandi Toksvig. Watch her run the BBC's "QI" game show and see what you think.

Roy DeRousse said...

I like him a lot. I enjoy his everyman quality and his obvious sincerity. I like that he's not a slick professional.

Melinda Rose Skilondz said...

Mel brooks!
Fun!

Anonymous said...

George Plimpton is also what came to my mind. The earnest amateur playing way outside his skill set. As for Oz vs Rodgers, I disagree. I'd put Oz on the junior varsity and Aaron--much as I love him--on the taxi squad. I found him stiff and a bit repetitious.

-30-

KB said...

Aaron is better than Oz or Couric, but there's no way he does this full time. So he's serviceable until the next guest host. Alex was obviously the best, but honestly I'm getting a little tired of the constant bowing at the altar at the beginning of every episode from these hosts.

Tom said...

Not to mention, after playing in high school and college, Rodgers sat on the bench for three years watching Brett Favre. Even Alex Trebek wasn't ALEX TREBEK when he took over Jeopardy, he served a lengthy apprenticeship on lesser game shows...which brings me to my suggestion for host: A guy who has played countless game show hosts on SNL: Kenan Thompson.

Michael said...

I THINK it was Bill Maher who talked about when Charlie Sheen decided to go out and do standup, and said this isn't something you just say, Oh, I'm going to tour now and do stand-up comedy. Just as, for example, you don't become an MLB player, or umpire, or announcer without ever having practiced or at least been involved in some way. And that's the issue for someone like Aaron Rodgers: However naturally good he might be, this is still something alien to him.

Brian said...

To Michael's point: Tom Hanks and Sally Fields in Punchline showed who were and were not stand-up comedians when compared to the rest of the cast.

Unknown said...

What was Mr. Rodgers problem? Did he fumble alot of the questions?

I heard that he gave 4 chances to answer the questions, then turned it over.

....I will show myself out

Steve_Law said...

Nice plug for the Plympton books, particularly Paper Lion a classic. The 1968 movie starred Alan Alda and was the first time I noticed him. He was great as Plympton, and I think Alex Karras launched his movie an IV career playing himself. Thanks for the memory prompter.

Cowboy Surfer said...

Hadn't watched Jeopardy in awhile but tuned in for Rodgers.

He seems to be doing alright.

Personal note, I nailed the Television category.

Who is Vinny Barbarino???

Barry Traylor said...

I really liked Aaron Rodgers as the host. Not being a fan of football I had never heard of him before.

Philly Cinephile said...

Saw an article claiming that Rodgers was receiving "rave reviews" for his stint as a guest host. One of those raves stated that he was "better than Dr. Oz." Not exactly a rave review in my opinion.

He's definitely better than Dr. Oz, but he's not a particularly engaging personality. It also annoys me that he often appears to be trying not to laugh. I don't know if it's nerves, or if someone is off-camera trying to break him up.

"Surprise" guests? I hope they're not considering having Will Ferrell fill in, as some sort of wrongheaded tribute.

As for Alex growing into the role of host, has anyone here seen the reruns of CLASSIC CONCENTRATION (from the 1980s) currently airing on Buzzr? He had his fair share of cringe-worthy moments, which are all the more shocking considering how high he eventually set the bar.

Buttermilk Sky said...

Sorry, I had exactly the opposite reaction, namely, Dr. Ooze doesn't look so bad now. Has Rodgers ever watched JEOPARDY? He's slow to confirm right answers and totally lacking in charisma, great quarterback though he may be.

I love Sandi Toksvig and Rachel Riley but America may not be ready for a British host. (MSNBC recently showed a clip of Prince Charles with English subtitles.) I don't think either of them wants to re-locate to LA. How about Louie Anderson? He has game show experience and can think on his feet.

sanford said...

https://www.theringer.com/tv/2021/4/12/22376095/jeopardy-guest-host-rotation-ken-jennings-dr-oz-aaron-rodgers So there is room for a few surprise hosts. So Burton could be one of those. How ever I don't think any of the guest hosts will be the new host with the exception of Ken Richards or Ken Jennings. As for Jennings being on the Chase, I would not be surprised if that show has the same type of schedule as Jeopardy. Jennings could probably do both. The season is ending about a month later than it usually does.

JS said...

The only reason I can figure why Levar Burton hasn't gotten a shot is his age. They probably want someone younger who they can go with into the future. If he guest hosts, does well, people like him and they don't pick him, people will accuse them of ageism.

Rodgers' voice drive me nuts. I actually put the closed captioning on to get through his episodes. I don't like Jennings for the same reason. Mike the Producer did well. They better keep auditioning hosts because they haven't found "it" yet.

N. Zakharenko said...

Fran Tarkenton did OK as a co-host on That's Incredible for about 4 seasons.

Roger Owen Green said...

As much as I disliked Oz's persona, he understood the game better than Rodgers. The game is hard, and more challenging since the contestants started bouncing around the board.

And Rodgers' delivery put me to sleep, though he is a great QB.

There's a balance between respecting the intellect of the players, which Trebek learned to master, and that Jennings and Richards understand, and the fawning by many of the others.

Mike McCann said...

Rodgers has promise. Perhaps, with more opportunities to refine his new chosen craft, he can become as polished as Joe Garagiola, Pat Summerall and Dan Dierdorf became.

The difference is that these onetime NFL stars were brought along gradually -- and in the case of Summerall and Dierdorf, encouraged to learn many different aspects of on-air work from patient and caring local station managers who, like good coaches, realized that it takes time to turn potential into performance.

Aaron Rodgers may one day be a popular game show host. But he needs to show some patience, and not try to start at the top.

Tod said...

According to a USA Today article, it took him three days to tape his 10 shows.

NOT a good sign.

Jahn Ghalt said...

As a child, and along with Ball Four and Instant Replay, I read Paper Lion - all a step up from juvenile sports lit. > 50 years ago, so of course I recall practically nothing about Lion.

This was waayyy before I knew anything about The Paris Review, which on second thought makes me think Lion might be worth a re-read.

I suspect Rodgers was at first pleased to get a tryout, then more pleased to get elevated to The Show - all the while knowing it would be no more than a "cup of coffee".

(as someone who's "inside", Ken may know what the minimum pay is for MLB players who temporarily move up)

(how much does ANY Jeopardy guest host get to work a week of shows?)

IIRC Plimpton was a pretty tall guy - and walked off the field under his own power. Trebek, more like Flutie's stature, and capable of "running for his life", may well have walked off, too.

Roger Owen Green said...

It usually took Alex two days to tape 10 shows, so three days is not outrageous.
Doug Flutie is 5'9", Rodgers 6'2". Trebek was 5'8". But he carried himself taller.

Tom Galloway said...

Um, that's the same time it takes everyone. All the guest hosts get one day of practice with staff standing in as players. Then it's five shows a day over two days, exactly the same as Alex's schedule.

Mike said...

I want to see a professional broadcaster as the next Jeopardy host. Aaron Rodgers is an amateur and doesn’t have the enunciation of a pro. Ken Jennings’ voice doesn’t have the timbre of a pro. Mike Richards was fine, but she should be - he’s experienced.

Meredith Vieira would be perfect, but she has a gig, and I’m sure the producers want someone 20 years younger. I’d like to see LeVar get his opportunity to guest host, but he’s also a bit too old.

Anthony Hoffman said...

“Emotional connection”? I’m not sure he even knew Trebek personally.

Jahn Ghalt said...


Keenan Thompson! HAH!

Suggests a "novelty" of sort - an actual, SERIOUS, Black Jeopardy - something Jennings would have a tough time winning at.

OTOH - this MIGHT be too "insensitive" for 2021.

Nicole C said...

Aaron Rodgers won a Celebrity Jeopardy tournament in 2015.

Roger Owen Green said...

Here's Rodgers's J-Archive game as a player. https://www.j-archive.com/showgame.php?game_id=4892

Jim said...

I hate to pile on with all the others who also have noted that 1963 was the actual Paper Lion preseason for Plimpton. I spent many 1960’s days at that preseason site.

That season was bad timing for Alex Karras, who was only in the book by teammate reference. He was serving a gambling suspension with Paul Hornung during Plimpton’s time. His movie role was lesser as a result.

Karras was a known madman and would have been brought to public light much earlier but for the 1963 season suspension. Plimpton would have featured him.

Gene F. said...

I think Rodgers showed enough that if he somehow got the full-time job he would grow into it. I would like to see Aisha Tyler get a shot at it. She does a nice job on Whose Line is it Anyway, and I think she would handle this gig quite well.

Miltom the Momzer said...

Aaron Rodgers is as bland as tapioca. Dr. Schnoz (and I hate Dr. Schnoz) was much better than Rodgers.

OrangeTom said...

I like Rodgers a lot. Best guest host except for Richards. Unlike you, Ken, I thought Couric was pretty dreadful. Seemed really stiff and was obviously relying on a feed in her ear to identify correct answers. Were a lot of awkward pauses as she waited for direction. Even Oz didn't have that problem.

Mike Barer said...

I didn't mind Aaron as much in his second week. He either got better or I acclimated to his style.

Scott Rosenberg said...

I actually thought Dr. Oz was one of the better ones. He has a very intense, saliva-thickened voice that is not good for TV on Jeopardy! or that trash he otherwise hosts, but he spoke easily, on pace and in cadence.

I don't like the man, but he was significantly better than Couric, who was significantly better than Rodgers.

Aaron tried, but in some ways he was worse than a random person picked to host. It's understandable that the teleprompter work was a bit forced, his pacing wasn't perfect, and he might struggle on the tongue-twister clues or then bouncing his eyes to check the answer in time. He had a nice personality and didn't seem stressed, better than a person off the street, but in ways he didn't even seem like a native reader of the English language. His cadence and tone was all over the place. His voice dropped down for no reason. Questions and exclamations weren't pitched the usual way they should be all the time. And every Jeopardy! viewer intuitively understands that there's an emphasis on the call of the question: "Maimonides, a religious leader of THIS faith, etc etc" at times he actually understated what should be emphasized. And he's reading from a sheet of clues in front of him, not squinting at the board.

That should be the easy part, and it was painful.

Roger Owen Green said...

Because y'all care: the rest of the J hosts -https://www.jeopardy.com/jbuzz/news-events/jeopardy-guest-host-schedule
4/21/20 - New guest hosts just announced! LeVar Burton, George Stephanopoulos, Robin Roberts, David Faber and Joe Buck.