AND NOW HERE IS THE HOST OF JEOPARDY…AARON RODGERS!
It’s a reality, at least for this week. The Packers QB is going to host ten shows before April 16. So far, what we have seen has been decent, pretty good frankly. After all, Aaron Rodgers doesn’t have the deep TV background that other guests hosts have come in with.
Rodgers says it would be a dream come true to get the job full time, and he is serious about trying to make that dream a reality. He told The Ringer that he is capable of being a quarterback and hosting a daily gameshow simultaneously. Jeopardy actually has a pretty limited shooting schedule.
That’s a nice idea. Could it ever really become a reality? Frankly, I also wonder how interested in Rodgers the producers at Jeopardy actually are. For sports fans, Aaron Rodgers is a super star, but does his name have the same caché to the average American?
“I think so but it doesn’t matter because he’s really good at it and if you are fan of the show that’s what you want,” Stugotz told me. He says that Aaron may surprise some Jeopardy fans with just how perfectly he could fit their expectations. “Someone who loved Alex, loves the show, respects the position, will treat it with care, is super smart, good sense of humor and who is really good at it. Aaron checks all those boxes.”
CBS Sports Radio night time host JR Jackson agrees that Rodgers could be an ideal fit. He says it isn’t a problem if Rodgers isn’t a household name for people that aren’t sports fans, because he could bring a whole new audience to the show. As long as Jeopardy stays Jeopardy, the longtime fans will likely stay.
“No one can fill the shoes of Alex Trebek, but Rodgers would bring his own flair, and an expanded audience of curious football fans with him,” he tells me.
This is all so strange to me. It’s not that I wouldn’t want to see Aaron Rodgers hosting Jeopardy. I think he could be really good. The guy has just never struck me as the type that is interested in a career on television. I can’t even really picture him in a more traditional TV role for ex-football players.
“He has criticized the media for sensationalism so I think he has a real interest in what is said and how it is said, New York Post reporter Andrew Marchand reminds me. “In terms of being in the booth, he hasn’t gotten that much buzz, however, if it were something he wanted to do post-playing, he would be able to get a job.”
What if Aaron Rodgers were offered the job but told that it would have to be his top priority? Is he willing to walk away from football to be the full-time host of Jeopardy? He gave an interesting answer to that question when asked earlier this week.
“I want to keep playing, you know. I still have the passion and the fire, and this last season just reminded me and I think a lot of people that I can still play and still play at a really, really high level, and I feel like I can do this for a number of years moving forward,” he told Good Morning America.
It is interesting to note that Rodgers didn’t say there was no way he would walk away from football. If the next host gets paid the way the late Alex Trebek reportedly did, it could be a little easier to give up NFL starting quarterback money. At the time of his death, Jeopardy was reportedly paying Trebek $10 million per year. ESPN’s Bomani Jones told me that should be more than enough to make anyone reconsider playing in the NFL.
“There’s a reason I’m not a football player,” he said in a text. “Because you offer me even one million and I don’t have to get hit for it, and I forget I was ever in the NFL.”
Stugotz told me that he wouldn’t even need to be paid in the millions. If Rodgers won’t give up football and that is a problem for Jeopardy producers, Dan Le Batard’s co-host wants them to know that he comes cheap.
“$500,000,” he says flatly when I ask for his price. “I think even Aaron would agree if given a few reps I’d probably be better.” I tell him that is the perfect answer and he quickly fires back “I was thinking of saying 50k.”
Jackson says he wouldn’t mind seeing Rodgers walk away to become a gameshow host. “I need the headline, ‘Packers Move on from Rodgers, QBs Next Move is Jeopardy’. I can dream right?”
It would certainly be one of the most unique A blocks in sports radio history.
The part of this that I am having some trouble with is the idea of Rodgers on TV. Sure, he can be entertaining, but I have never thought of him as having a big personality. Isn’t that a prerequisite for being a gameshow host? The only other ex-football player hosting a game show I can think of is Michael Strahan. He just brings very palpable charisma. I am not sure Rodgers is capable of that.
Andrew Marchand tells me I am overthinking it. Rodgers doesn’t want to be a gameshow host. He wants to be the host of Jeopardy.
“I think his appeal is specific to Jeopardy,” he tells me in an email. “He has a true affection for the program and for Alex Trebek. That passion translates. So I don’t think he would be considered — and I suspect he wouldn’t be interested — in any other game shows. This program only features some small talk and it is taped in advance so I think he probably has enough skills to do it full-time.”
At the end of the day, it is hard not to root for this to happen. As Jackson points out, the headline is amazing. Also, what better middle finger to the team that drafted your replacement when you told them you needed weapons is there than saying “Screw you! I’d rather go quiz nerds than wear green and yellow ever again!”?
That’s probably not how this will go down. Besides, there is a lot of competition for the opening. Rodgers may not be producers’ first choice to step in for Alex Trebek, but across the sports media there is clearly no shortage of people that think it would make a lot of sense.
Being Wrong On-Air Isn’t A Bad Thing
…if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign.
In the press conference after the Warriors won their fourth NBA title in eight years, Steph Curry referenced a very specific gesture from a very specific episode of Get Up that aired in August 2021.
“Clearly remember some experts and talking heads putting up the big zero,” Curry said, then holding up a hollowed fist to one eye, looking through it as if it were a telescope.
“How many championships we would have going forward because of everything we went through.”
Yep, Kendrick Perkins and Domonique Foxworth each predicted the Warriors wouldn’t win a single title over the course of the four-year extension Curry had just signed. The Warriors won the NBA title and guess what? Curry gets to gloat.
The funny part to me was the people who felt Perkins or Foxworth should be mad or embarrassed. Why? Because they were wrong?
That’s part of the game. If you’re a host or analyst who is never wrong in a prediction, it’s more likely that you’re excruciatingly boring than exceedingly smart. Being wrong is not necessarily fun, but it’s not a bad thing in this business.
You shouldn’t try to be wrong, but you shouldn’t be afraid of it, either. And if you are wrong, own it. Hold your L as I’ve heard the kids say. Don’t try to minimize it or explain it or try to point out how many other people are wrong, too. Do what Kendrick Perkins did on Get Up the day after the Warriors won the title.
“When they go on to win it, guess what?” He said, sitting next to Mike Greenberg. “You have to eat that.”
Do not do what Perkins did later that morning on First Take.
Perkins: “I come on here and it’s cool, right? Y’all can pull up Perk receipts and things to that nature. And then you give other people a pass like J-Will.”
Jason Williams: “I don’t get passes on this show.”
Perkins: “You had to, you had a receipt, too, because me and you both picked the Memphis Grizzlies to beat the Golden State Warriors, but I’m OK with that. I’m OK with that. Go ahead Stephen A. I know you’re about to have fun and do your thing. Go ahead.”
Stephen A. Smith: “First of all, I’m going to get serious for a second with the both of you, especially you, Perk, and I want to tell you something right now. Let me throw myself on Front Street, we can sit up there and make fun of me. You know how many damn Finals predictions I got wrong? I don’t give a damn. I mean, I got a whole bunch of them wrong. Ain’t no reason to come on the air and defend yourself. Perk, listen man. You were wrong. And we making fun, and Steph Curry making fun of you. You laugh at that my brother. He got you today. That’s all. He got you today.”
It’s absolutely great advice, and if you feel yourself getting uncomfortable over the fact that you were wrong, stop to realize that’s your pride talking. Your ego. And if people call you out for being wrong, it’s actually a good sign. It means they’re not just listening, but holding on to what you say. You matter. Don’t ruin that by getting defensive and testy.
WORTH EVERY PENNY
I did a double-take when I saw Chris Russo’s list of the greatest QB-TE combinations ever on Wednesday and this was before I ever got to Tom Brady-to-Rob Gronkowski listed at No. 5. It was actually No. 4 that stopped me cold: Starr-Kramer.
My first thought: Jerry Kramer didn’t play tight end.
My second thought: I must be unaware of this really good tight end from the Lombardi-era Packers.
After further review, I don’t think that’s necessarily true, either. Ron Kramer did play for the Lombardi-era Packers, and he was a good player. He caught 14 scoring passes in a three-year stretch where he really mattered, but he failed to catch a single touchdown pass in six of the 10 NFL seasons he played. He was named first-team All-Pro once and finished his career with 229 receptions.
Now this is not the only reason that this is an absolutely terrible list. It is the most egregious, however. Bart Starr and Kramer are not among the 25 top QB-TE combinations in NFL history let alone the top five. And if you’re to believe Russo’s list, eighty percent of the top tandems played in the NFL in the 30-year window from 1958 to 1987 with only one tandem from the past 30 years meriting inclusion when this is the era in which tight end production has steadily climbed.
Then I found out that Russo is making $10,000 per appearance on “First Take.”
My first thought: You don’t have to pay that much to get a 60-something white guy to grossly exaggerate how great stuff used to be.
My second thought: That might be the best $10,000 ESPN has ever spent.
Once a week, Russo comes on and draws a reaction out of a younger demographic by playing a good-natured version of Dana Carvey’s Grumpy Old Man. Russo groans to JJ Redick about the lack of fundamental basketball skills in today’s game or he proclaims the majesty of a tight end-quarterback pairing that was among the top five in its decade, but doesn’t sniff the top five of all-time.
And guess what? It works. Redick rolls his eyes, asks Russo which game he’s watching, and on Wednesday he got me to spend a good 25 minutes looking up statistics for some Packers tight end I’d never heard of. Not satisfied with that, I then moved on to determine Russo’s biggest omission from the list, which I’ve concluded is Philip Rivers and Antonio Gates, who connected for 89 touchdowns over 15 seasons, which is only 73 more touchdowns than Kramer scored in his career. John Elway and Shannon Sharpe should be on there, too.
Money Isn’t The Key Reason Why Sellers Sell Sports Radio
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions.
A radio salesperson’s value being purely tied to money is overrated to me. Our managers all believe that our main motivation for selling radio is to make more money. They see no problem in asking us to sell more in various ways because it increases our paycheck. We are offered more money to sell digital, NTR, to sell another station in the cluster, weekend remotes, new direct business, or via the phone in 8 hours.
But is that why you sell sports radio?
In 2022, the Top 10 highest paying sales jobs are all in technology. Not a media company among them. You could argue that if it were all about making money, we should quit and work in tech. Famous bank robber Willie Sutton was asked why he robbed twenty banks over twenty years. He reportedly said,” that’s where the money is”. Sutton is the classic example of a person who wanted what money could provide and was willing to do whatever it took to get it, BUT he also admitted he liked robbing banks and felt alive. So, Sutton didn’t do it just for the money.
A salesperson’s relationship with money and prestige is also at the center of the play Death of a Salesman. Willy Loman is an aging and failing salesman who decides he is worth more dead than alive and kills himself in an auto accident giving his family the death benefit from his life insurance policy. Loman wasn’t working for the money. He wanted the prestige of what money could buy for himself and his family.
Recently, I met a woman who spent twelve years selling radio from 1999-2011. I asked her why she left her senior sales job. She said she didn’t like the changes in the industry. Consolidation was at its peak, and most salespeople were asked to do more with less help. She described her radio sales job as one with “golden handcuffs”. The station paid her too much money to quit even though she hated the job. She finally quit. The job wasn’t worth the money to her.
I started selling sports radio because I enjoyed working with clients who loved sports, our station, and wanted to reach fans with our commercials and promotions. I never wanted to sell anything else and specifically enjoyed selling programming centered around reaching fans of Boise State University football. That’s it. Very similar to what Mark Glynn and his KJR staff experience when selling Kraken hockey and Huskies football.
I never thought selling sports radio was the best way to make money. I just enjoyed the way I could make money. I focused on the process and what I enjoyed about the position—the freedom to come and go and set my schedule for the most part. I concentrated on annual contracts and clients who wanted to run radio commercials over the air to get more traffic and build their brand.
Most of my clients were local direct and listened to the station. Some other sales initiatives had steep learning curves, were one-day events or contracted out shaky support staff. In other words, the money didn’t motivate me enough. How I spent my time was more important.
So, if you are in management, maybe consider why your sales staff is working at the station. Because to me, they’d be robbing banks if it were all about making lots of money.
Media Noise: BSM Podcast Network Round Table
Demetri Ravanos welcomes the two newest members of the BSM Podcast Network to the show. Brady Farkas and Stephen Strom join for a roundtable discussion that includes the new media, Sage Steele and Roger Goodell telling Congress that Dave Portnoy isn’t banned from NFL events.