Having read a handful of good, thoughtful interviews involving ESPN’s Samantha Ponder in recent months, I was happy to get a chance to talk to her this week about her new role on NFL Countdown as well as other subjects. She was candid and thoughtful as usual, and more of that material will appear in Sunday’s print edition in Q&A format.
But I was particularly struck by some of her remembrances of the time she spent in Minnesota with her husband, Christian, when he was a Vikings’ quarterback.
Ponder, who made the media rounds this week as a spokeswoman for XYIENCE energy drink and its Lone Survivor Foundation, basically said they kept their first child a secret because of the poor treatment they received from people in Minnesota. Their daughter Bowden was born in the summer of 2014, near the end of Christian’s time with the Vikings. Their second child is due “any day now” and has been far less of a secret. That’s no coincidence, she said.
“We were easy targets when we were (in Minnesota). And that’s not like a ‘poor us’ thing, but things weren’t going well. Things were rough in public. I had some really bad encounters and basically kind of stayed home for a while when we lived there,” she said. “It comes with the business. I get it. … It just got so bad when we were there that we decided, ‘we’re going to protect this.’ People can say whatever they want about Christian or me, but if we can protect my stress level while I was pregnant and our newborn baby, we were going to do that as much as we could. And it has been different since we moved.”
The encounters weren’t just in public, of course. They were even more frequent on social media — particularly Twitter.
“In some ways, I embrace the hate. As long as you have a firm foundation elsewhere and don’t depend on other people to make you feel good or bad, then I think Twitter can be a great thing,” Ponder said. “Sometimes it does get a little out of hand. As people in Minnesota learned very quickly, I just started blocking people. Especially when you’re pregnant and don’t want to be super stressed out, if you don’t see it, that makes it a whole lot better.”