Ex-'Jeopardy!' Host: Aaron Rodgers Was Top Pick to Succeed Trebek

Exploring the unexpected crossover between sports and game shows.

by Zain ul Abedin
Ex-'Jeopardy!' Host: Aaron Rodgers Was Top Pick to Succeed Trebek
© Rich Storry/Getty Images

In what could have been an unexpected career pivot, New York Jets' acclaimed quarterback Aaron Rodgers was revealed as the top candidate poised to succeed the beloved Alex Trebek on the iconic quiz show "Jeopardy!". This surprising disclosure came from Mike Richards, the brief successor to Trebek and a former producer of the show, who shared insights into the selection process that had the sports world buzzing.

Richards, aged 48, who briefly stepped into Trebek's shoes after his passing, expressed to People magazine his astonishment at Rodgers' exceptional preparation for the role during the 2021 search. According to Richards, Rodgers embodied the ideal candidate, demonstrating not just a deep respect for the show's legacy but also an impressive dedication to preparing for the hosting stint, leaving a lasting impression on the staff with his congeniality and professionalism.

Rodgers' "Jeopardy!" Journey

"Aaron Rodgers was undoubtedly the most prepared," Richards recounted, emphasizing the quarterback's thorough approach and the warmth he extended to everyone involved in the production. However, Richards admitted that Rodgers' illustrious football career presented a significant scheduling dilemma, humorously noting Rodgers' confidence in resolving any potential conflicts.

Rodgers, who is no stranger to the "Jeopardy!" stage, having guest-hosted for a fortnight to critical acclaim, also showcased his philanthropic side by raising over $236,000 for the North Valley Community Foundation during his time as host.

His affinity for the game show and his successful stint as a contestant in the 2015 "Celebrity Jeopardy!" tournament further distinguished him from other celebrities who took on the guest-hosting mantle, such as CNN's Anderson Cooper and actress Mayim Bialik.

Despite Rodgers' clear enthusiasm for the role and the positive reception from fans and staff alike, Richards was ultimately appointed as the host, a decision that stirred controversy among the "Jeopardy!" community. Richards' tenure was short-lived, however, as he stepped down after just one episode amid backlash over past controversial comments and a legal battle involving allegations of discrimination.

Reflecting on the whirlwind of events and public scrutiny that followed his appointment, Richards shared his surprise and concern for the intense public and media reaction, likening it to the scrutiny of a presidential election.

His departure from the show marked a tumultuous chapter in the search for Trebek's successor, leaving fans and viewers to ponder what might have been had Rodgers traded the football field for the quiz show podium.