Aaron Rodgers' first show as guest host of Jeopardy! Monday evening was a rousing success by virtually everyone who watched, and it was far more interesting than the NCAA championship basketball game going on simultaneously on another channel.
The former Cal star had a classic moment for Golden Bears fans when he uttered a "Go Bears," and the program ended with a memorable response by the returning champion that roasted Rodgers regarding a coaching decision in the Packers' NFC title game loss to the Tampa Buccaneers. We will provide details of those two incidents a little later in this report.
Rodgers has already said he would love to be the permanent host of Jeopardy! (see video just below), and you wonder whether that is just a negotiating ploy regarding his uncertain long-term future with the Packers or whether the former Cal star would actually give up football in his prime to be Alex Trebek's successor.
He will be 38 years old before the 2021 season ends, he is getting married to actor Shailene Woodley, and he told Us magazine (so we know it must be true) that he is looking forward to fatherhood.
Or could Rodgers continue to play pro football while also hosting Jeopardy! full time, as he suggested in an interview with The Ringer?
"I don't think I'd need to give up football to do it," Rodgers said of being the fulltime Jeopardy! host. "They film 46 days a year. I worked 187 this year in Green Bay. That gives me 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."
OK, back to the show.
Rodgers began with a salute to Alex Trebek, who had been an idol of Rodgers' for years.
"Thank you, Johnny Gilbert. Welcome to Jeopardy!. As a lifelong fan of Jeopardy! it is an incredible honor to guest host. 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'll never forget. Alex was such a gentleman, so smart, so precise. I was in awe. And I will work hard to honor his legacy."
But the good stuff began during the host's traditional short conversation with contestants early in the show. One contestant, Brandon Deutsch, revealed he is a Cal student, then recalled being at a concert while doing his Jeopardy! entrance exam.
When Deutsch completed his story, Rodgers responded with "Go Bears."
A brief look at the college-age Rodgers here:
Deutsch ended up winning Monday's game, so he will be back Tuesday night. Will there be another Cal moment for Deutsch and Rodgers? (7 p.m. Pacific time on ABC in San Francisco Bay Area.)
The show went remarkably smoothly, leading to kudos from all kinds of people. One of them was former Cal golfer Max Homa, who is in Augusta, Ga., preparing to play in this week's Masters. He had enough time to watch the show and provide this Tweet:
The part that everyone is talking about (even among sports folks, who are not necessarily Jeopardy! devotees) came in Final Jeopardy.
In the category of "Daytime TV Personalities," the Final Jeopardy answer was "Accepting a lifetime achievement Emmy, he said, 'Just take ... 10 seconds to think of the people who have helped you become who you are.'"
Deutsch had already clinched the victory before the Final Jeopardy segment, and apparently returning champion Scott Shewfelt did not know the correct response, so he wrote this:
"Who wanted to kick that field goal?"
Those who got the joke gave a hearty laugh, and Rodgers, his wide smile producing huge dimples, looked down for a moment, and said, "That is a great question, should be correct, but unfortunately for this game today, it's incorrect."
The correct response was : "Who is Mr. Rogers?" (No 'D' in that name.) Deutsch was the only contestant to get it right, but Shewfelt stole the show, and Rodgers had suggested as much in an interview several days earlier with ESPN's Rob Denovsky, when Rodgers said this:
"Just wait until you see the first show and what the returning champion wrote, and then think about me standing at the podium watching -- and this will make sense when you see what he wrote -- and I'm watching him write this down. For about 25 seconds, I'm watching him write this, and he thinks about the answer and says 'F--- it,' basically, 'I'm going to write this answer,' which, probably one of the viral moments of my two weeks will be his response, which is taking a shot at something that happened to us late in the season.”
For those still in the dark, Shewfelt's response was a reference to the controversial decision by Packers coach Matt LaFleur in the NFC Championship Game loss to the Buccaneers and Tom Brady.
Instead of going for a touchdown on 4th-and-goal from the 8-yard line, while down eight points with only two minutes remaining, the Packers kicked a field goal. After the ensuing kickoff, Brady ran out the clock.
After the game Rodgers implied he did not like the decision to kick a field goal.
“I didn't have a decision on that one,” Rodgers said. “That wasn't my decision, but understand the thinking, above two minutes, with all of our timeouts but, yeah, it wasn’t my decision.
“I thought we maybe were going to have four chances.”
Rodgers talked about the Jeopardy! moment in backstage comments:
Rodgers has four more chances this week and five more next week to strengthen his case to be the permanent host of Jeopardy!.
Follow Jake Curtis of Cal Sports Report on Twitter: @jakecurtis53
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