C.J.: Ponder this: Does marriage make a winner?

  • Article by: C.J. , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 24, 2012 - 7:55 PM

The explanation, wink-wink, for why Vikings QB Christian Ponder played so well in Sunday's 23-6 shocker over the Texans caught sportscaster Dan Patrick off guard.

"I don't think you hear too many athletes who say, after a big win ... marriage," Patrick said, yukking it up on the set of NBC's "Football Night in America" with Tony Dungy and Rodney Harrison, a guy who often sounds as though he doesn't like the much-loved Dungy.

As we all know by now, six days before this big game in Texas, Ponder slipped off to Wisconsin with ESPN reporter Samantha Steele and tied the knot, mere months after they started dating. (On Twitter, Steele vented her resentment to suggestions that the rush to marry was pregnancy-related. Steele, to no surprise, hasn't responded to my tweet regarding prospects for the pitter-Ponder of little feet by September 2013 as a result of post-marriage festivities.)

In a media conference clip aired by NBC, a grinning coach Leslie Frazier said: "We were teasing him in the locker room. Being a married guy. ... Not being single has been a plus for him."

Playful as this may be, are the Vikings putting extra weight on this fresh marriage by suggesting that it has anything to do with winning a football game?

On Monday, I asked a couple of professionals that question, starting with Edina psychologist in private practice Nancy Van Dyken.

"I say, 'Whatever works. Let's keep doing it.' If that seems to be what's on his mind and seems to be making a difference, I say, great," said Van Dyken, laughing, before asking, "Are you saying they are putting too much pressure on the marriage?"

Exactly. What are Vikings fans to conclude if the team loses Sunday's all-important game to the Packers in the Dome?

Van Dyken found that uproariously funny. "That's good," she said with more laughter. "Well, I guess that's one for Ponder to answer."

Mitch Sherman, a psychology professor at UW Stout who earned his Ph.D. at the University of Minnesota, has totally bought what Ponder and Frazier are selling. "I think it has a lot to do with it. He's settled, feeling more satisfied, if you know what I mean, and calm about himself and connected to another person in a real way," said Sherman. "All of those things will have an effect on play and how you make decisions on a ball field."

That looks like an extremely slippery slope, especially after Ponder, perish the thought, loses games. The newlyweds probably haven't even had their first fight! "Well, yeah. If things go sour, and I don't think it will, he's going to be grumpy, right," laughed Sherman.

The good news from where I sit is that, one whole game into wedded bliss, Steele isn't looking like one Jessica Simpson, who was considered a jinx by Cowboys fans, during her showy romance with Tony Romo. And Ponder didn't do anything against the Texans to cause "Fox NFL Sunday" analyst Jimmy Johnson to dust off this prenuptials jab: "Maybe his wife should teach him how to throw."

When back of the bus is OK

Until recently, nonexistent have been the sentences in which you'd find Rosa Parks' name and my initials. From what I've heard about the "Mother of the Freedom Movement," from people I know who knew her, Parks was saintly. That's another word unlikely to find its way in a sentence mentioning me.

However, when Fox 9's Jason Matheson saw the SouthWest Transit bus with my face on the back of it, among his reactions was this: "Girl, they done put you in the back of the bus like Rosa Parks."

He's so funny, as listeners to his FM 107.1 Radio show know. Matheson was obviously channeling his inner-Sheletta Brundidge. (The real one, a former FM 107.1 personality, having moved to Texas and found a job that, I'm pleased to report, requires standard English.)

As Matheson explained on my startribune.com/video, he and his partner were driving away from the grocery store when they were caught in traffic behind my bus. "I stopped and I looked up and I went 'Holy crap, C.J. on the back of the bus!" As previously noted, there were various reactions, the funniest being completely unprintable. "I thought, 'Oh. There are so many really inappropriate jokes that I'll never be able to say,'" Matheson said for public consumption. "Couldn't they have put you on the side of the bus? We live in a very PC world; they should have put you on the side of the bus."

There is nothing politically incorrect with the placement of my photo -- taken by Bob McNamara after a makeup job from Terra H. -- on that bus that shows my head even more ginormous than some imagine it.

Rosa Parks' refusal, as a black woman, to move to the back of the bus and give her seat to a white person sparked the Montgomery, Ala., bus boycott and a movement in the then-segregated South.

Had only the photo of the black woman (me) been on the back of the bus, that would have been a problem for political correctness. But my photo was treated just like the ones of Garrison Keillor, Louie Anderson, a Prince stand-alike, a Steven Tyler mouth-alike and others for the campaign designed to make riding the bus cool by underscoring the point that everybody rides and "So Can You."

My bus states that "Columnists Ride," while Keillor's bus reads "Writers Ride" and Anderson's bus says "Funny People Ride."

Matheson is not going to know what to do with the sight of SI-cursed, and still phenomenal, Adrian Peterson on the front side and back side of one SouthWest Transit bus.

C.J. is at 612-332-TIPS or cj@startribune.com. E-mailers, please state a subject -- "Hello" doesn't count. Attachments are not opened, so don't even try. More of her attitude can be seen on Thursday mornings on Fox 9.

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