Christian Ponder says marriage is 'not going to be a distraction'
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EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. -- Christian Ponder's face matched his red quarterback jersey by the time Wednesday's media session ended at Minnesota Vikings headquarters.
The second-year quarterback answered 10 questions before the subject turned to his recent marriage to Samantha Steele, which he confirmed in a slightly uncomfortable, sometimes humorous back and forth with reporters.
Ponder also reiterated the marriage to Steele -- the ESPN reporter he began dating several months ago -- isn't a distraction leading up to a Sunday matchup at Houston he acknowledged is the biggest game of his career.
A report first surfaced on Wednesday morning that Ponder, 24, and Steele, 27, had been wed on Monday in St. Croix County court in Hudson, Wis. They were engaged a couple of weeks ago.
Coach Leslie Frazier said he knew the wedding was on the radar but didn't know when. Asked if he was concerned by the timing, Frazier said, "No. He's a young man who, I'm sure he put a lot of thought in it, consulted with the right people. So, happy for him."
In the interest of hard-hitting journalism (right?), here's the relevant portion of Wednesday's Q&A with Ponder:
You talked about how this is the biggest game of your career. That calls into question your decision to get married the week before. Is that not a distraction?
No. Not at all. It hasn't deterred anything from what I did, routine Monday and Tuesday. I was in here and got my film work in. Obviously, it's a big deal, but it wasn't a distraction at all.
How's it compare to getting drafted number one?
It was, uh ... that's a tough question. I mean, I liked being drafted number one. We'll see how this marriage thing goes. (laughter) Is this on film? Is this on camera? Good.
Did you go with Christian Steele?
That's what people asked me. That would have been good, right? I could be like a pro wrestler or something. No, I did not, though.
Was it this Monday?
It was, yeah.
Did you take some witnesses from the team?
No, no, from the courthouse. We tried to keep the attention away from us and just went over to Wisconsin and had it done. So, it was quick, but it was good.
A lot of Minnesota fans wonder why you have to do it in Wisconsin ...
Well, we tried to limit the attention on us, and I know probably the state of Minnesota isn't happy about it. But you know, whatever. We're going to have a big ceremony sometime in the offseason and be able to enjoy it, and hopefully, some people from Minnesota will be able to be there.
Not trying to soften up J.J. (Watt) in Houston are you?
Uh, yeah. That might be a good plan. I'm going to have to talk to him before the game. I'm going to have to send him an invite or something.
Were your parents there? Were her parents there?
No, just us. Just us.
You had to know it was going to get out, though, right?
We were hoping not. That wasn't the plan.
Are you registered at Nike?
Yeah, for sure. Get some good gifts.
Not yet. Not yet. That'll be down the road. Obviously, like I said, it's such a big game this week. It was a good thing that happened. But it's not going to be a distraction, and I'm still putting in the time that I did Monday and Tuesday and for the rest of the week. ... No one outside of myself understands how big of a game this is for myself and this team, and it's important for me.
So, what was behind the timing of it?
It was important for us to get it done before the holidays and a lot of personal reasons that went into it.