By Jim Souhan
Christian Ponder traveled to Wisconsin on a December Monday to get married.
There’s nothing wrong with that. Other than the timing and the location.
It was the day after one of the most important games of his career. It was six days before what he calls the most important game of his career.
He is the Vikings’ quarterback. He plays a position synonymous with leadership, a position said to require more attentiveness and study than any other in team sports.
His team’s season hangs in the balance. So does his career. With two impressive performances over the next eight days, he could propel his team into the playoffs and establish himself as the starting quarterback for the 2013 season. With two poor performances, he could ruin a suddenly-promising season and force the Vikings to seek his replacement.
The nature of modern media, social media and the way sports intertwines with both means that the public would become aware of Ponder’s marriage and react strongly to the timing of it.
Why couldn’t he have waited until the end of the season, which might have required just two more weeks? Why the rush? Can he properly focus on the most demanding job in sports while tending to the details of a marriage, however perfunctory the ceremony might have been?
They’re all fair questions for an NFL quarterback, because to be an NFL quarterback is to invite attention and scrutiny.
Just because we’re entitled to inquire about the marriage doesn’t mean we should actually care.
Players do all kinds of crazy things with their time off. Many of them make headlines and police reports. I guarantee that while Ponder was driving to Wisconsin, an NFL player somewhere, and possibly in Minnesota, was getting irresponsibly drunk. An NFL player somewhere, and possibly in Minnesota, was getting stoned. An NFL player somewhere, and possibly in Minnesota, was breaking a more serious law, perhaps driving drunk or getting into a bar fight.
Ponder's timing may not have been great, or understandable, but there's no way his performance this week will be negatively affected by his trip to Wisconsin. If he throws an interception on Sunday, it won't be because he got married on Monday.
I'll be on 1500ESPN at 2:05 with Reusse and Mackey. Tom Pelissero and I will run Sunday Sports Talk from 10-noon on Sunday morning. We'll be in Houston for the Vikings game and Joe Schmit from Channel 5 will moderate from the studio in the Twin Cities. And Dana Wessel will continue to have fabulous hair.
Please follow me on Twitter at @Souhanstrib.
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