Things did not go well for the Ponders in Minnesota. The Vikings picked Christian Ponder 12th overall in the 2011 NFL Draft, but the former Florida State quarterback was a bust, playing four years with the team while completing less than 60 percent of his passes and throwing 38 touchdowns to 36 interceptions.
Being a struggling quarterback in a football-crazed city means being a target at times, but it sure sounds like things went too far with Vikings fans.
According to Christian's wife, Samantha Ponder, who will take over as host of ESPN's "NFL Countdown" on Sunday mornings this fall, she and Christian didn't announce they were pregnant and she didn't leave the house to "protect my stress level" from fans in the street.
"We were easy targets when we were [in Minnesota]. And that's not like a 'poor us' thing, but things weren't going well. Things were rough in public. I had some really bad encounters and basically kind of stayed home for a while when we lived there," she said. "It comes with the business. I get it. … It just got so bad when we were there that we decided, 'We're going to protect this.' People can say whatever they want about Christian or me, but if we can protect my stress level while I was pregnant and our newborn baby, we were going to do that as much as we could. And it has been different since we moved."
It's one thing to have someone say something nasty to you online -- not that it's OK, but it's just not surprising -- but being scared to go out in public is another matter. The two were married in 2012, not too long after Christian was drafted by the Vikings. The honeymoon in Minnesota did not last long -- people have been harassing Samantha online ever since they announced they were getting married.
But to have Vikings fans behave boorishly to the Ponder family to their faces while walking around the Twin Cities and living their lives to the point that Samantha would just stay in their house during her pregnancy? That's so sad.
There's no block button in real life like there is on the internet, a fact with which Samantha Ponder became intimately familiar.
"In some ways, I embrace the hate. As long as you have a firm foundation elsewhere and don't depend on other people to make you feel good or bad, then I think Twitter can be a great thing," Ponder said. "Sometimes it does get a little out of hand. As people in Minnesota learned very quickly, I just started blocking people. Especially when you're pregnant and don't want to be super stressed out, if you don't see it, that makes it a whole lot better."
The good news is the Ponders had their baby -- Bowden, named after Christian's college coach Bobby -- and there's a second baby on the way. They're a happy, healthy family doing well in the world.
Even if they don't look back on their time in Minnesota that fondly.