Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers has become the master of the Hail Mary, taking what is usually thought of as a once-in-a-lifetime play and doing it three times for long touchdowns in the last 14 months. He owes that success in part to a meeting on a celebrity edition of Jeopardy.
Rodgers won on Jeopardy in 2015, beating retired astronaut Mark Kelly as well as Kevin O’Leary from Shark Tank. Rodgers and Kelly became friends after that, and Rodgers has consulted Kelly on the physics of football, picking Kelly’s brain about the trajectory of thrown footballs and how a pass can be affected by factors such as wind and temperature.
Kelly told Sports Illustrated that they’ve talked about Hail Mary passes and throwing a football at the correct angle so that the ball will land in the end zone after staying in the air long enough for the Packers’ receivers to position themselves under it.
“Timing is everything and fortunately it is so cold in Green Bay there isn’t significant re-entry heating,” Kelly said. “I’m kidding, of course.”
A little astronaut humor for you.
Of course, knowledge of physics is less important than the ability to throw the ball high and far. But Rodgers has always had that ability. In the last two seasons, he’s been able to refine his Hail Mary passes after giving some more thought to how they travel through the air. He thanks his friendship with Kelly for that.