GREEN BAY – Aaron Rodgers was waiting in the green room prior to his "Celebrity Jeopardy!" appearance in 2015 when the door swung open and legendary host Alex Trebek entered.
Instantly, the Packers' MVP quarterback and Super Bowl champion was teleported back in time to when he was just a kid sitting on the floor of his grandparents' house watching the iconic game show.
"When he walked into the room that first time … he has such a presence and such a charisma," said Rodgers in an interview with “Jeopardy!” prior to his 10-episode residency as guest host beginning Monday.
"Everything kind of got quiet. It's like, 'Oh my God, there's Alex Trebek.' That was a really special moment."
A devout fan of the show, Rodgers has watched virtually every episode during his 16 seasons in Green Bay, estimating "probably 90% of my TiVo is wrapped up in 'Jeopardy!' episodes."
Having previously won during his 2015 appearance, Rodgers was approached earlier this year about serving as one of the show's interim hosts, a rotation "Jeopardy!" began after Trebek passed away last November following a two-year battle with pancreatic cancer.
Rodgers jumped at the opportunity, investing the same level of detail into his preparation as he does for an NFL game.
"Just respect, respect for the position," Rodgers said. "Alex did it with such grace and humility. I just wanted to bring the same type of approach to let you people know that I was focused, I cared about it, that I loved the game and that I wanted to do him justice."
Rodgers said he used some of his same in-game tactics and "box-breathing" techniques to manage the nerves involved with hosting the show, currently in its 37th season. He also jotted down tidbits of advice on the podium such as "Slow down," "Speak clearly," and his patented "Relax" catchphrase.
"The key to being football-smart is the focus and the key to really being good at this game or good at hosting is that same focus where you have to have an incredible understanding of the intricacies of the game, and when to insert yourself and when to remove yourself," Rodgers said.
"As a ('Jeopardy!' ) player, you have to be good on that buzzer. You have to have such focus on the host reading that you understand when he's done and that board lights up, that's when I can get in. Because a lot of times it comes down to that ability to get in at the right time, especially when you're playing with some really amazing players."
A native of Chico, Calif., Rodgers is using his guest spot to raise money for the North Valley Community Foundation, a non-profit organization in Butte County raising money for individuals and small businesses affected by the California wildfires and ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Rodgers and NVCF announced on Saturday that "Jeopardy!" is matching winnings of all contestants and donating it to Rodgers' small-business COVID-19 fund.
"Thanks to 'Jeopardy!' (That donation) is an incredible amount of money that's going to go so far and change so many people's lives," Rodgers said. "People who have lost hope. Businesses that are on the brink of bankruptcy. This cause means a lot to me and I'm very, very thankful for the money that we raised."
As a former "Jeopardy!" champion, Rodgers listed former Packers center and current NFLPA President JC Tretter, and Washington quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick as NFL players he'd like to see pick up a "Jeopardy!" buzzer at some point, while also issuing a challenge to his own teammates in Green Bay.
"Being the self-proclaimed smartest guy on the team, I encounter some of my teammates who try to test me from time-to-time, whether it's trivia or some other sort of game," said Rodgers with a smile.
"I'd love to see my linemen, who I love so much but are also very opinionated guys who think they're absolutely brilliant humans. I'm talking about David Bakhtiari, I'm talking about Corey Linsley and Lucas Patrick."
"I'd like to see those three guys right up here on this stage in a normal 'Jeopardy!' game or even a 'Celebrity Jeopardy!' game, which might be a little easier, and just see how well they do."