Aaron Rodgers is extremely smart. Aaron Rodgers is extremely self-aware. And Aaron Rodgers is extremely strategic.
He would not have done a pre-airing victory lap regarding his two-week stint as a Jeopardy (I know there’s an exclamation point; I choose not to use it) guest host, touting the extent to which he crushed the assignment, if he didn’t realize to his core that he, indeed, crushed the assignment.
Surely, the powers-that-be are eyeballing the various guests hosts as potential permanent hosts. If Rodgers did what he appears to have done (we’ll find out Monday for sure) as the guest host of the show, what happens if they offer him the full-time gig?
The possibility undoubtedly has crossed his mind. And who would fault him for walking away from a job that has a handful of remaining years for something that he could do for 20, 30, 40 years or more, at eight-figure annual salaries? With Rodgers repeatedly making it clear that he has no interest in becoming an NFL analyst after his football career ends, the best path to big money post-playing would come from pouncing on an opportunity like Jeopardy, even if the timing isn’t entirely perfect.
For Rodgers, the problem is that the window may only ever open once. Whoever gets the job may hold the job for so long that Rodgers never gets another chance.
It’s no accident or coincidence that Rodgers has made the rounds in recent days to hype his appearance. Apart from being extremely smart, self-aware, and strategic, he’s intensely competitive. With Dr. Mehmet Oz handling the two weeks before Rodgers, Rodgers wants the ratings to spike once he takes over — and they will.
Rodgers also is a master of sending messages to his current employer while also retaining the ability to say, “I’m not sending any messages.” And there’s definitely a message for Packers CEO Mark Murphy in Rodgers’ belief that he nailed it on Jeopardy.
Count Murphy among the millions who’ll tune in next week, with an eye toward analyzing every word, movement, and facial expression from Rodgers in order to assess whether he truly has the chops to win the ultimate Jeopardy prize — an off-ramp from football that gives Rodgers a major platform (and the millions of dollars that will go along with it) for decades to come.