ESPN Defends Hiring Jordan Rodgers After 'The Bachelorette': 'He Didn't Need the Show to Get Our Attention'

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Jordan Rodgers wasn't hired by ESPN because of The Bachelorette; he was hired despite it.

Fresh off of winning the ABC dating competition, the 27-year-old former athlete was hired as a college football analyst for the SEC Network. The announcement caused controversy among sports fans -- and fellow contestant Chad Johnson -- who objected that Rodgers was only hired because of his newfound reality fame. But ESPN's senior vice president says he was on their radar before The Bachelorette.

"He didn't need the show to get our attention. 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," Stephanie Druley revealed to Sports Illustrated. "We waited until the show was a few weeks into its run before we made an offer. He accepted the offer the day I was in an airport and saw US Weekly with him splashed across the cover."

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"Thankfully, the article didn't live up to the headline, nor did a lot of other ones I read, and I'm certain that I read about 90 percent of what was written, because I was vested in what it'd mean for the work he'd do with us," Druley added.

Beginning Aug. 23, Rodgers joins ESPN's channel dedicated to coverage of the Southeastern Conference as a college football analyst. Druley explained that it was Rodgers' own college football experience -- he played quarterback at Vanderbilt University -- that qualified him for the gig.

"We had [also] 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 claimed.

"When he became available, he came to Charlotte. He walked into my office and the first thing I said to him was that his hair might be too high for our network," she joked. "Despite that, it was clear he had a real passion and a deep knowledge of college football. The audition was really good -- rare that someone walks in off the street and does an audition that we would be willing to air."

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Still, Rodgers' run on The Bachelorette may very well be an asset to ESPN in the end -- though, perhaps not in the way you would imagine.

"The advantage Jordan had when he sat down in front of our cameras in Charlotte was that he had just spent the past three months in front of a camera or many cameras," Druley recalled. "I think that's the advantage it gave him."

The Bachelorette
also drew plenty of attention to the estrangement between Rodgers and his famous older brother, Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers. When ET sat down with Rodgers and his new fiancée, he exclusively opened up about the "sensitive" family matters and how much he was able to share with JoJo.

Find out what he had to say in the video below.