If you have to be called “a super nerd,” who better than Aaron Rodgers to do it?
During the contestant chat on Thursday’s “Jeopardy!,” Rodgers went there, asking returning champ Patrick Hume why he didn’t get his driver’s license until he was 28.
“You would think that somebody who got their driver’s license at 28 might be kind of a super nerd,” Rodgers said, “but we learned last game that you learned jiu-jitsu, is that correct? And you’re also a Tough Mudder runner, so how come 28?”
It’s an approach that both is and is not straight out of the Green Bay Packers quarterback’s game show guest hosting playbook.
As host, Rodgers receives note cards with fun facts about each contestant based on a questionnaire they fill out. Questions the show’s set producer have prepared the three contestants for are highlighted for him, but Rodgers told Claire McNear in an interview for The Ringer that his strategy for the chats was to sometimes go a different route and pick something from the card he thought was more interesting. He would give the person a heads-up about what he was going to ask during the break.
“But I’d try to get them talking about stuff that maybe wasn’t as nerdy. For any of the contestants who were doing athletic endeavors, I like to highlight those. One guy was training for a marathon — and like, I respect that because I don’t want to run 26.2 miles, so I got him talking about that,” Rodgers told The Ringer. “Another guy was a black belt in judo, and I was like, ‘hey, tell me about this.’
“I’ve spent so many years watching those interviews and some of those things seem super, super nerdy — like, wow, why would you admit that, almost. So I would try to choose facts that maybe highlighted some of their personality that wasn’t as nerdy.”
On Wednesday night, Rodgers asked Hume about training in the martial art of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu for the last three years. On Thursday night, he opted to go to the nerdy end of the notecard, no apologies.
Hume explained he lived 100 yards from his Massachusetts high school and never got around to learning to drive until it was time to move to Los Angeles.
If it takes a nerd to know one, count Rodgers in. He thinks his own nerdiness would be part of his appeal if he were to be hired as permanent host for the show.
“I bring an audience from the NFL, and I feel like I appeal to nerdy people, too, because I was a nerd in high school and got caught in that weird phase of wanting to be a jock and an athlete and also really caring about getting good grades,” he said in The Ringer interview.
Also on Thursday’s show, Rodgers read this clue from the & I Feel All Right category: “Just relax & have some captopril, an ace inhibitor used to lower this.” The correct response was blood pressure. All very straightforward.
But let’s have a show of hands from all the Packers fans who, when they heard Rodgers say “relax,” immediately wished he would have read it as “R-E-L-A-X,” just as he memorably advised fans distraught over the team’s sluggish start in the 2014 season.
“Five letters here just for everybody out there in Packer-land: R-E-L-A-X,” he told Packers fans in a radio interview that year. “Relax. We’re going to be OK.”
“Relax” is also one of the reminders he had written to himself on a sticky note on the “Jeopardy!” podium during the filming of his 10 episodes. He shared a photo of his note-covered podium on his Instagram that also showed prompts to “speak less,” “slow down” and “stand-up straight.” For humor, there was also one that said “don’t pick your nose/butt.”
Rodgers earned $25,100 from Thursday’s show for the North Valley Community Foundation to help small businesses impacted by the pandemic in and around his hometown of Chico, California.
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Follow the Green Bay Press-Gazette’s Kendra Meinert on Twitter @KendraMeinert.