Ponder confirms: He's dating ESPN reporter

Samantha Steele (Al Messerschmidt/Getty)

Christian Ponder confirmed that he has been dating ESPN college football reporter Samantha Steele for a little over a month, saying he "out-punted his coverage."

Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder confirmed he has been dating ESPN college football sideline reporter Samantha Steele for a little over a month.

The news got out when Ponder alluded to the fact on Twitter recently, but he confirmed it in person Friday.

"The answer is yes," Ponder said after the Vikings practice.

"We've kind of been intentionally trying to keep it private. People are going to figure it out at some point. It's not really that big of a deal. … You can't really worry about it. I tried to keep it private, but that's just part of the industry, part of the territory."

Tight end Kyle Rudolph, one of Ponder's best friends on the team, disputed the notion that Ponder has been trying to keep the relationship out of public view.

"He tweets at her all the time, so he's not trying to keep it private," Rudolph joked.

Although Ponder admitted to deleting at least one tweet to Steele, he did tweet a picture of a Disney princess with the message, "I was surprised to see @Samantha_Steele in Target today."

Ponder said he and Steele started dating when he was part of an ESPN college game-day set at Florida State.

Asked who out-punted their coverage, Ponder joked: "I did, obviously. Obviously I'm a catch. Yeah, I out-punted my coverage for sure."

Ponder and Steele were able to keep the relationship under wraps for weeks, but now that it made the news, he's said he's proud of it.

"I'm proud of the relationship. I can brag," Ponder said. "I have bragging rights, I believe."

Rudolph ribbed Ponder while he was conducting an interview on the subject and continued later when asked about the relationship, agreeing that Ponder "definitely out-kicked his coverage."

Rudolph and Ponder are roommates when the Vikings travel, and the tight end has gotten to know Steele over the past two months.

"During training camp he started talking to her a little bit and it was just one of those things. She came up and visited, I believe, and they hit it off. I'm happy for him. Samantha is a very nice girl," Rudolph said.

"They are both extremely driven and successful people. You look at her career and what she's done to make her way up to being one of the main college football reporters and then take Christian, for example, somebody who has been very driven and goal-oriented throughout his entire life."

But, admitting that he always likes to tease Ponder, Rudolph added: "She definitely wears the pants."

Ponder agreed that he had been getting grief from his teammates, as would be expected in an NFL locker room.

"Yeah, they call me Mr. Steele. That's always good," Ponder said. "All the offensive linemen, that's my new name. Christian Steele is kind of a sweet name."

Tim Yotter is the publisher of Viking Update. Follow Viking Update on Twitter and discuss this topic on our message boards. To become a subscriber to the Viking Update web site or magazine, click here.

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