Last week ESPN’s SEC Network hired Jordan Rodgers, a former college football player at Vanderbilt and a much bigger player on The Bachelorette.
If you know what we mean!
While those who noticed this underreported story focused on whether Jordan used JoJo Fletcher to advance his career, the real question is:
Why did ESPN hire the guy?!
The soon-to-be college football studio analyst for the network lacks any TV experience other than winning the final rose on The Bachelorette.
ESPN Senior Vice President Stephanie Druley, asked if Rodgers actively pursued employment with ESPN, defended the curious move.
"Our talent office had Jordan on their radar for some time," she said, asked about her handsome new recruit by Sports Illustrated.
"His name was in the initial group of names that we discussed when looking at people to bring to Charlotte (the SEC Network home) for auditions."
"He played at Vanderbilt. He played quarterback. We had seen some interviews that he had done. So we reached out to him."
"At the time, he was unavailable due to filming. I’m not even sure that we knew what show he was doing," she adds, completely dubiously.
"When he became available ... he walked into my office and the first thing I said [jokingly] was that his hair might be too high for our network."
"Despite that, it was clear he had a real passion and a deep knowledge of college football. The audition was really good," she said.
Really really good, she says, calling it "rare that someone walks in off the street and does an audition that we would be willing to air."
As for the obvious assumption in the eyes of many that ESPN is just capitalizing on the popularity of a show on a fellow Disney property?
"He had been on our radar before the show, he didn’t need to get our attention," Druely insists, saying that worked against him, not for him.
"In fact, I had a real concern with how he would be viewed by fans of the show and what it might mean for him down the line."
"We waited until the show was a few weeks into its run before we made an offer," she said, unaware there would be a tabloid firestorm.
"He accepted the offer the day I was in an airport and saw [celebrity news magazine] US Weekly with him splashed across the cover."
"Thankfully, the article didn’t live up to the headline nor did a lot of other ones I read," she said of one of many reports of Jordan's shadiness.
"I’m certain that I read about 90% of what was written because I was vested in what it’d mean for the work he’d do with us."
"My group had spent time with Jordan [and was] confident in the decision," Druley adds, noting that The Bachelorette was helpful in one respect:
"The advantage Jordan had when he sat down in front of our cameras was that he had just spent three months in front of many cameras."
"When you combine that with the fact that he knows college football and can speak intelligently about it, it made him the right fit for us."
"I think that’s the advantage it gave him."
As for why Jordan Rodgers' feud with Aaron Rodgers, his famous NFL star brother, got started or whether he cheated on Brittany Farrar?
Or whether he went on The Bachelorette just for this reason, having flamed out of the NFL and knowing it would raise his telegenic profile?
Or whether Jordan and JoJo are already over and putting on a front to save face, or already fighting hardcore and on the verge of a split?
Only time will tell, but one has to wonder:
Is this smooth-talking, sort of shady character really going to be so good as an analyst that fans will forget the absurd reason he's quasi-famous?
And did that really not affect ESPN?