When Austin Rogers picks up the phone, he's relaxing for the first time in a very long while.
The NYCFC founding member is watching some TV, ordering some food on Seamless, and generally just chilling out. He probably deserves it, after all. His nine-game winning streak and quirky, amicable personality has made him America's newest Jeopardy darling. These days, he's a busy guy.
Like all of the best competitors, Austin is a student of his game. He's done enough film study to make Patrick Vieira blush, and even though he admits there's no secret formula to winning Jeopardy, he's picked up on a few things over the years.
"You start catching wind of little tropes that they use," says Austin. "They have key words, and when you isolate that key word, you have isolated the clue, because it's not so much, 'should you know this?' It's, 'what does Jeopardy want you to know?'
"In analyzing it, like reading the tape, you isolate the important factor of the clue and ignore everything else, and just go for it that way."
Of course, you still have to have a remarkable knowledge base from which to pull your answers.
"For example, one Final Jeopardy category was 'American Artists,'" recalls Austin. The clue was that this particular artist was from Iowa.
He knew who it was immediately: "It's Grant Wood. Grant Wood is from Iowa. The rest of the words are fluff."
It turns out that Austin's love of football comes from watching tape, too.
"I became an Arsenal fan back in college, in 1998. But back then, there wasn't anywhere to watch the games," says Rogers. Those were dark days, indeed.
"The way we had to watch them play was that one of our friends—who was English—his mom would send us VHS tapes of matches in chronological order. So on Saturdays, we'd sit around and watch all the matches from the last month, without knowing what the results were. So that was how I first fell in love with the game."
Thankfully, it's much easier to watch the beautiful game these days, doubly so when you have a hometown club to root for.
Rogers has been an NYCFC diehard from the start, and he still remembers Andrea Pirlo's first match for the club.
"He came out in like the 74th minute, if I recall, and everyone was cheering the whole time," says Rogers, whose season tickets were in the Supporters' Section. "So we're dancing and singing the whole time, doing all the songs.
"He boots this wide, looping ball down the right wing from deep in midfield, and no one is there. Literally no one is there. So, everyone in the stands looks at the pass, sees where he kicked it, and says, 'why was no one there?'
"I think Pirlo took the ball, saw that nobody was there and that the right wing was wide open, and hit it there to send a message to his teammates, saying, 'be there next time.'"
Sharp eye, Austin. Sharp eye.
He still remembers just how special it felt to support NYCFC in those early days.
"It's amazing that the Club's supporters already had songs for a team that had never existed," recalls Rogers. "Whoever wrote those, and whoever got them spread so that everyone knew them immediately... it was really remarkable.
"It felt like a storied club by, like, match day three."
That was more than two years ago now, and in the time that has passed since then, Austin has noticed something different about this season: a little something extra that has helped NYCFC reach new heights.
"I just love how everything's jelling," says Rogers.
"The team seems more holistically put together. There were times in the past where it seemed like there were three separate components playing on the field, and now it's not like that. There's this organic flow, and I think the goal differential makes that pretty abundantly clear."
Things certainly do seem to be coming together for NYCFC in their third season of play, and they seem to be coming together for Austin, too. Now a household name, the question is: What's next?
"I'm just going to continue to enjoy this little roller coaster run, and see what opportunities arise from it," says Austin. "and I definitely think I'm going to have some leisure time to get to some playoff matches.
"I'm going to make a point of that."