Samantha Steele: Relationship with Ponder hasn’t been a problem for ESPN

I’ve seen enough movies to know that love happens under unusual circumstances. Samantha Steele’s relationship with Christian Ponder has been anything but usual.

Steele, in her first year as host and sideline reporter for ESPN, has faced scrutiny ever since it was disclosed that she was dating the Minnesota Vikings quarterback; they now are engaged. It is generally frowned upon by women sports reporters to go out with athletes.

In an interview with’s Richard Deitsch, Steele said that her relationship with Ponder does not conflict with her role at ESPN.

From the post:

Steele said she told her bosses and colleagues about the relationship early  on, and inquired of her agent how she should approach things regarding any  journalistic landmines. She said she would reconsider her assignment if she  believed her relationship with Ponder posed a conflict editorially.

“I don’t do anything in the same circles professionally as him,” Steele said.  “When it comes to doing my job and covering the sports that I cover and doing my  best to do that with journalistic integrity, there has not been a single time  where that has ever come up and been a problem. I understand what you are saying  in the sense that there has never been something as clear-cut as this, but I did  not invent this wheel. This has definitely gone on before. The main thing for us  is we were going to be honest about this situation once we realized this was the  real deal. Obviously, I had zero interest in people knowing about it, but once  people started asking I certainly was not going to lie.”

ESPN expressed its take early this year, saying via a spokesperson:  “Regarding any policies, we expect any commentator to raise any relationship  that could be a conflict with the sport they cover. This does not fit that  scenario as she covers college football.”

The relationship probably precludes Steele from covering the NFL as long as Ponder still is playing. That might not be a problem for long if Ponder doesn’t step up his game. He has failed to throw for more than 100 yards in each of his last two games.




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