Matt Vensel is in his first year at the Star Tribune after covering the Ravens for the Baltimore Sun for six years. He is a Pittsburgh native and a Penn State grad. Follow him at @mattvensel.


Mark Craig has covered the NFL for 23 years, and the Vikings since 2003 for the Star Tribune. He is one of 44 Pro Football Hall of Fame selectors. Follow him at @markcraignfl.


Master Tesfatsion is the Star Tribune’s digital Vikings writer. He is a 2013 graduate of Arizona State and worked for mlb.com before arriving in Minneapolis. Follow him at @masterstrib.


Christian Ponder-Samantha Steele marriage: Prompted by 'a lot of personal reasons'

Posted by: under Vikings, Leslie Frazier, John Sullivan, Leslie Frazier Updated: December 19, 2012 - 12:45 PM

The word is out:  Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder is now a married man.

Signed, sealed, delivered.

A day after the Vikings scored a decisive 36-22 win in St. Louis, Ponder used part of his “Victory Monday” to venture to a courthouse in Hudson, Wisc., where he tied the knot with ESPN reporter Samantha Steele.

Ponder’s hope in taking the nuptials into Wisconsin?

“We tried to limit the attention on us,” he said during his regular weekly press conference Wednesday.

Well, so much for that.

This is, of course, another odd twist in a high-profile relationship that began earlier this season. And Ponder no longer has any hope of dodging the barrage of public attention that inevitably comes with this news.

Word of the marriage spread across the Internet early Wednesday, prompting the expected outside speculation and rush to judgment.

Certainly, the timing is peculiar. The marriage comes during a week in which the Vikings are facing a stiff road test in Houston, a game that will have huge ramifications on their playoff hopes. And Ponder himself continues to refer to this weekend’s game as the biggest of the year and of his career. So he was asked Wednesday why he chose this week to legally complete his union with Steele.

“It was important for us to get it done before the holidays,” he said. “A lot of personal reasons that went in to it.”

Ponder insisted that his marriage this week, a quick and easy legal procedure that went down without any family or friends, would not be a distraction.

“It hasn’t deterred from what I did with my routine every Monday and Tuesday,” Ponder said. “I was in here and got my film work in. And obviously, it was a big deal. But it wasn’t a distraction at all.”

To lighten the mood, one reporter asked Ponder how tying the knot with Steele compared with being drafted in the first round in 2011. Ponder laughed.

“That’s a tough question,” he replied. “I mean I liked being drafted No. 1. We’ll see how this marriage thing goes.”

Center John Sullivan, a close friend of Ponder’s, refused to answer any questions about his quarterback’s marriage. “Just focused on Houston,” he said.

As for coach Leslie Frazier, he was asked whether he received an invite to the wedding. Frazier, too, seemed uncomfortable answering questions on Ponder’s personal life.

“I’m happy for him,” Frazier said. “Happy that he’s no longer single. I mean, he’s a young man. I’m sure he put a lot of thought in it and consulted with the right people. So, I’m happy for him. … I knew it was on the radar. Didn’t know when. So he got it done.”

Ponder blushed throughout his discussion of the event. Certainly, he had to know that a move of the magnitude was going to draw significant attention, didn’t he?

“We were hoping not,” Ponder said. “That wasn’t the plan.”
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