An engaged Christian Ponder is apparently not going to be much fun.
At his weekly Winter Park media appearance Wednesday, the Vikings QB wasn't coughing up any details about his engagement to ESPN reporter Samantha Steele. Perhaps a Sunday victory over the Bears, and throwing for more than 119 yards, will restore our QB's affability. While Ponder has not located a consistent groove on the football field, where the Vikings are a brutal 6-6 and just entering the meaty part of their schedule, he has found love.
I didn't get to ask Ponder about this speedy transition from dating to engagement. He wasn't really open to any of my questions. (Mark these words: Ponder will blab all the details to someone more important than I am, possibly Andrea Kremer or Michele Tofoya or Dan Patrick.)
With tongue in cheek, I asked Ponder whether letting out news of the engagement was his way of generating better media coverage.
"I'm not worried about coverage. Obviously the rumors are true," Ponder said. "We're focused on the Bears and this week. Obviously we're excited about that." I assume "that" is a romantic reference to the engagement.
Did Ponder ask Steele's dad or parents for the reporter's hand in marriage?
"We're not going into details," said Ponder, as you can see on my startribune.com/video. "We're excited. It was a fun experience this week but we've moved on."
Oh, now he wants to be private.
After multifarious suggestions (and not by me) that the romance was having a negative impact on his playing, Ponder couldn't wait to chortle into a mike in Week 10 after the Vikings beat the Lions 34-24: "I want to thank my girlfriend. Because she obviously has such a big impact on how I play, which allowed me to win."
Other media at Ponder's Wednesday session joked to me afterward about whether this guy who wasn't answering my questions was the same person who was yammering about his girlfriend in Week 10. While the QB was clearly miffed that Vikings fans have been heaping blame on Steele for losses, that gratuitous mention of the girlfriend did nothing to establish a zone of privacy. It was, however, an indication that he was seriously smitten.
But who could've imagined that he was hyped up enough to make a Continental Diamond run?
Ponder first went to the St. Louis Park jewelry store about a month ago, during regular business hours, staffer Beth Kato told me Wednesday. She wouldn't talk carats or price tags while showing me a ring similar to the one Ponder purchased that was designed by Precision Set. The ring on my video has some "slight modifications that we created for Christian Ponder," said Kato. "But you can see all of the beautiful undergallery work. It's one of our favorite designers and with the double halo, it's a very popular look right now."
Ponder has been in the store since the engagement ring design was completed. On Friday he attended Continental Diamond's customer appreciation event with teammates Antoine Winfield, Adrian Peterson and Chad Greenway. See the diamond store's Facebook page for photos.
That was then, this is now
In the interest of diminishing "the distraction" Wednesday, I was informed before Ponder arrived not to expect a private interaction. I would have to muscle in on the time allotted the sports reporters, none of whom had a single engagement question.
That was different from what happened Sept. 12 when Ponder sought me out and expressed mock surprise that I was at Winter Park to interview someone other than him. It was on that day that Ponder informed me he was without a girlfriend at that moment.
That news was disclosed after I had playfully asked Ponder to make sure he told me first when he got engaged.
"I'll call you. Before I call my mom, I'll call you," he said.
Now, I'm not that ridiculous. I told him to call his mother, then call me.
"I'll get a hold of you," said Ponder, who expressed doubt that phone call would come in 2012 because "I've got nothing going on. I'm a lone wolf right now."
In other words, that unnamed girlfriend made reference to in a Dec. 30, 2011, Star Tribune story was no longer on the scene. How must she feel, now that Ponder has apparently asked for the hand of someone who appears to be the very next woman he dated, a woman he compared to Cinderella in a flirty tweet to Steele.
Cole hauls in a good quip
KFAN's Common Man launched the insulting Ponder-Steele engagement quip that has gone viral.
Ponder's wedding will be the first one held without a reception.
A reception, for those unfamiliar with football jargon, is another word for a successful football catch.
"A listener sent it to me," Common told me Wednesday. "I was probably the first to crack the joke. You know how [TV stations] claim they break news? We broke the joke."
Citypages.com's Aaron Rupar compiled a list of engagement jokes posted on Twitter by Twin Cities media.
Rupar's award for the meanest engagement tweet goes to ESPN 1500's Dana Wessel: "My ship is sinking fast. I gotta lock this girl up before I'm a backup and getting shot down [by seedy women] at Sneaky Pete's."
This only gets more horrid if Ponder doesn't start to win, baby, win.
C.J. is at 612.332.TIPS or firstname.lastname@example.org. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try.