Jeopardy! contestants knew nothing about football, and Alex Trebek ridiculed them

Three days before the Super Bowl, it only seemed right that Jeopardy! feature some football-related questions. At least those behind the popular game show thought so. But our three contestants, Ryan, Sara and Justin, clearly were not prepared.


It probably should have been an ominous sign that the rest of the board had been cleared before a candidate even touched the “talkin’ football” category. Nonetheless, it went even worse than expected.

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And Jeopardy! host Alex Trebek let the contestants know about their failings to further the embarrassment. After one incorrect answer, he ribbed them with a “I can tell you guys are big football fans.” After two incorrect: “Ah, do you think we should go to commercial?”

After a while, the inevitable silence from the contestants began to draw laughs. “Let’s look at the $1,000 clue just for the fun of it,” Trebek said before the final one. And after a video played referencing the Minnesota Vikings’ Purple People Eaters, Trebek joked, “If you guys ring in and get this one, I will die.”

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Oh, and later in the night … down came Jeopardy!’s social media team from the top rope!


To be fair to the contestants, if you had never watched a football game in your life – or even if you had, but not intently – there is no “gimme” answer here. An option, Tom Landry, a fair catch, offsetting penalties and the Purple People Eaters aren’t exactly in an average person’s vocabulary – at least not in the football senses of the words or phrases.

A few of the clues, such as the ones for option and offsetting penalties, could have possibly brought out correct guesses from non-football watchers. But who the heck would know that the answer – er, question – for the following is “fair catch” if they didn’t watch multiple football broadcasts every year?

One of five football-related clues that contestants on Jeopardy! were stumped by. (Screenshot: Jeopardy!)
One of five football-related clues that contestants on Jeopardy! were stumped by. (Screenshot: Jeopardy!)

Still, not great. “I have to talk to them,” Trebek said as the show went to commercial. But perhaps it’s a timely reminder that, although millions of Americans watch football religiously, there are also millions who have never watched a down in their lives.

For those hosting Super Bowl parties: Pick the attendee who you think possesses the least football knowledge. Pose these five questions to him or her. Chances are, he or she will get fewer correct than you’d expect.

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