In case you were wondering, Minnesota Vikings’ quarterback Christian Ponder says its not his relationship with ESPN sideline reporter Samantha Steele that’s causing his poor play of late.
Since before anyone can remember, high-profile athletes have dealt with speculation that their relationships off the field play a direct role in their competition on it. Ponder is the latest to face such speculation after the Vikings went from Super Bowl contender to just another middle-of-the-pack 5-4 team.
SportsRadioInterviews.com reports that Ponder gave a definitive answer when asked whether or not Steele was part of the team’s collapse.
“She has nothing to do with it,” Ponder said. “We’ve been dating since the beginning of the season, so she had also to do with the five wins. So it has really nothing to do with anything on the football field.”
The blog Awful Announcing reports that concerns linking Ponder’s play to his relationship with Steele stem from Minnesota area sports radio call in shows, where callers have raised the question. The site also notes that if those among society not playing professional sports are capable of balancing a relationship and a job, there’s no reason to assume a football player cannot do the same.
Steele, who replaced former ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews, has previously worked for Fox News before becoming joining ESPN. She can be seen on College GameDay, Thursday Night Football and Super Tuesday programs.
Ponder is completing 64 percent passes this season. He has 10 touchdowns and eight interceptions. Earlier this season he had a stretch of three-straight games with two interceptions. Recently against Seattle the second-year quarterback completed just 50 percent of his passes, but he said if he were the coach, he would not have benched himself.
“I wasn’t performing well and the whole offense wasn’t performing well, but knowing the position and knowing what it takes, I think in the middle of the game, to pull the quarterback is definitely a tough situation,” Ponder said. “And we were still in the game, so no, I definitely wouldn’t have pulled myself.”