Minnesota Viking Christian Ponder called a quarterback sneak Monday and slipped into Hudson, Wis., and married ESPN reporter Samantha Steele.
Ponder, 24, and Steele, 27, were wed in St. Croix County Court by Court Commissioner Stephen Dunlap, the court confirmed Wednesday. Ponder listed an Excelsior address on the license, while Steele's was listed as being in Arizona.
Speaking Wednesday to the news media at the team's Eden Prairie headquarters, Ponder said "it was important to get it done before the holidays for a lot of personal reasons."
He added that his wedding was "obviously . . . a big deal, but it wasn't a distraction" as he tries to lead the Vikings into the playoffs.
The second-year quarterback said that he and Steele chose the Wisconsin court "to limit the attention on us" and they will have a bigger ceremony in the off-season. Honeymoon plans are also pending.
It was "just us," with people at the courthouse serving as witnesses, he said.
"I know, probably, the state of Minnesota isn't happy about" him venturing into enemy territory for such a significant event, said Ponder, who went before the cameras without a wedding band. "But you know, whatever."
Steele tweeted Wednesday morning: "Twitter is so tricky. Who knew that 'she's pregnant' & 'they'll be divorced soon' are just the 2012 version of 'congrats'! Thx guys! :)"
Head coach Leslie Frazier said of Ponder's nuptials: "I'm sure he put a lot of thought into it and talked with the right people."
Ponder let news of the couple's engagement slip out last month, with the progression from girlfriend to fiancee to spouse coming rather quickly.
His engagement during the season has been the target of criticism among some fans and even national sports commentators, saying the quarterback should be focusing all of his attention on his erratic on-the-field performances that have bedeviled him for much of his sophomore season in the NFL.
Fox Sports analyst and former Super Bowl champion coach Jimmy Johnson said on the air this month that "maybe his wife can teach him how to throw."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482
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