NFL Draft: Christian Has Faith in Minnesota, Will Vikings Fans Take the Leap?
Yesterday, Christian Ponder tweeted that he had bought his first Minnesota Twins hat.
@cponder7: Went with the fitted "M," they didn't have the classic "TC"..not a lot of Minnesota gear in Tallahassee
Vikings.com posted a video of Ponder's first press conference as a Viking. Ponder said that he was excited to be in Minnesota and likes what he has seen so far. Ponder claims to be a big fisherman and looks forward to taking advantage of the land of 10,000 lakes.
Other Vikings—including DE Jared Allen and TE Jim Kleinsasser—also embrace Minnesota for its outdoor sporting attractions. The two players are also among fan favorites in Minnesota. I think fans can really identify with a player that shares hobbies off the field. It's something that can really help a player to become a part of the community.
That's exactly what the Vikings want—a franchise QB that can be a public figure. Ponder will find himself in the best position to succeed if he has the fans behind him. It really is a confidence thing; he's already got all the mental and physical tools to be what the Vikings need. If he holds on to these potential ties to the community, he will be a Viking for a long time.
This morning I was listening to KFAN, the radio home of the Vikings, where Vikings commentator Paul Allen interviewed Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher. Of Ponder, Fisher said that the Vikings were not only getting a great player but an outstanding human being as well.
Fisher emphasized that Ponder was the sole reason for much of FSU's success in recent years. Fisher told Allen that Christian would make plays even without having a true No. 1 receiving option, because the previous No.1 had been let go by the team.
Paul Allen asked Fisher what Ponder's weaknesses are. Fisher responded that Ponder takes too much responsibility, even when it's not on his shoulders. He referenced a game against Georgia Tech in 2009, where the Seminoles scored touchdowns on the first five drives of the game and still lost because of an insufficient defense.
As a three-year starter at FSU, Ponder threw for 6,872 yards with 49 touchdowns and 30 interceptions. His junior year, he had a passer rating of 147.7, and his senior year 135.7. Imagine what this kid can do with Sidney Rice, Percy Harvin, AP and Visanthe Shiancoe.
The final thing that coach Fisher wanted to emphasize was that Ponder's injuries have not lingered around in his game. This should be old news, though, because Ponder was the Senior Bowl MVP after throwing for 131 yards and two touchdowns. Fisher told Allen that the most publicized injury was Ponder's shoulder injury. Christian separated his shoulder lighting up a defensive player that intercepted his pass.
Fisher also shared a story of Ponder playing through two broken ribs to win a game his sophomore year. These war stories can go on and on, but when it comes down to it, that is exactly the kind of guy Vikings fans have been looking for—a tough leader.
On April 28, Vikings fans at the Winter Park draft party booed when they saw that Ponder was the team's first round selection. With Prince Amukamara still on the board, fans thought they might be able to see a great CB in purple in 2011. Instead, they will be getting the franchise QB that they've been waiting for and arguably the most NFL-ready QB in the draft.
Here are just a few links for you:
Ponder has already shown personal investment in Minnesota, but will they return the favor?
I think that, come the start of the season, fans will embrace Christian Ponder just as eagerly as they did Brett Favre in 2009. The only thing fans can do is wait.
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