RandBall: How ESPN's Samantha Steele (Christian Ponder's girlfriend) become the next Erin Andrews
- Blog Post by: Michael Rand
- November 7, 2012 - 2:50 PM
One of the least-funny things on a long list of unfunny things that have resulted from Christian Ponder's recent struggles is the suggestion from the rubes that his girlfriend -- ESPN's Samantha Steele -- is somehow at the root of his problems.
Seriously, right? Their relationship is fun celebrity gossip and blog fodder, but it's not making Ponder's passes erratic.
As such, maybe the jokers could take a couple of minutes to learn a little more about Steele, who has essentially replaced Erin Andrews as the go-to sideline reporter for ESPN. How, for instance, did Steele land this gig?
At 18, she got the itch and moved cross country to New York City. No job. No connections.
"So I went to the ESPN Zone in Times Square and applied to be a hostess," she said. "This was my thought process, this is how naïve I was. I thought there would be ESPN people coming in there because it's the ESPN Zone."
Just two months into seating customers in midtown Manhattan, she met someone with ABC Sports Radio. Her admittedly half-baked idea actually worked and soon Steele was an intern at the network. That led to a researcher-assistant job with ABC-TV on the college football studio show.
"It's so crazy because people thought I was an idiot, which I was," she said. "But apparently some part of that plan made sense."
Her first sideline reporting job came at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Va., where she graduated in 2009. Working for the Mid-Atlantic Sports Network (MASN), Steele developed the on-air presence that's now cultivating her fame one broadcast at a time.
She's quick with her wit, and shows no apprehension trying something new. After working for Fox Sports for two years, Steele moved over to ESPN and its Texas-themed Longhorn Network last year. Her presence grew rapidly into occasional sideline reporting for non-Texas games.
The call to the farm team then came before this season, after a major piece of its broadcast team moved on. Erin Andrews' July switch to the Fox network opened a GameDay roster spot soon filled by Steele. She also picked up the co-hosting job on the 9 a.m. ESPNU GameDay show once occupied by Andrews.
Thus began the whirlwind.
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