Minnesota Vikings fans probably don't want to remember much about last year. The Vikings were a miserable 3-13, lost to the Packers twice, and the defense was one of the worst in the NFL. But through the trials and tribulation, it appears that some members of the Vikings are making personal growth that should lead to success for the team in 2012-2013.
One stand-out is quarterback Christian Ponder. Ponder took over for Donovan McNabb midway through last year as the Vikings stuttered to a poor start. Many NFL scouts have complimented Ponder on his already-high level of maturity (at Florida State he was exemplary in his academics as well as football), but his comments this off-season show a willingness to self-criticize and improve his game.
"I get so frustrated watching myself last year, watching myself escape from the pocket too early, making bad reads and doing pretty dumb stuff. You just watch that stuff and it gives me so much more confidence that I can be so much better next year."
In a league where players like Terrell Owens are usually making the news for proclaiming themselves the greatest ever, it is not only refreshing to see Ponder criticizing his performances last year, it is a good sign for Minnesota Vikings fans. This is a characteristic shown by NFL greats such as Peyton Manning, Drew Brees, Aaron Rodgers.
Last year, Vikings fans called for Christian Ponder to replace Donovan McNabb, and while the results weren't always pretty, the team was moving forward. This year, fans can expect their quarterback to be one year older, and one year wiser. He is already showing that without stepping onto the field.
Jack Grunpe is an avid Minnesota Vikings fan. Follow him on Twitter at @MNSportsWriter1.