Christian Ponder denies relationship with ESPN reporter is behind Vikings’ struggles

Jay Busbee
Shutdown Corner

Call it the Curse of Jessica Simpson: High-profile quarterback starts dating high-profile woman, and boom, the season goes straight into the toilet. Is it happening again in Minnesota, where QB Christian Ponder recently revealed he's dating ESPN reporter Samantha Steele?

In a word: no.

[Gallery: College football sideline reporter Samantha Steele]

But Ponder has been in something of a slump since the news went public in early October. He's completed just over half of his passes since then (38 of 74) and has thrown double the number of interceptions as touchdowns (four and two, respectively). Over that span, Minnesota has gone 1-2, beating Arizona but losing to Tampa Bay and Seattle.

A radio interview aired the possibility that Ms. Steele might be behind the slump — hey, it's as good a guess as any — but Ponder shot that down in a hurry: "She has nothing to do with it. We've been dating since the beginning of the season, so she had also to do with the five wins. So it has really nothing to do with anything on the football field."

It's a fair point. After all, unless Steele is playing defense, she's not responsible for the Vikings giving up 29 points per game over that stretch. No, as exciting as it might be to blame the quarterback's girlfriend for distracting his attention, the hard truth is that the Vikings are just a bit of a mess right now. As long as they can get this resolved before the playoffs, Ms. Steele won't suffer the same criticisms as Jessica Simpson did when she was dating Tony Romo at the exact moment the Cowboys went into the tank.

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