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Christian Ponder able to laugh about relationship “news”

Samantha Steele, Lori Ann Madison

ESPN personality Samantha Steele stands with six-year-old Lori Ann Madison, of Woodbridge, Va., the youngest contestant in the history of the National Spelling Bee, Wednesday, May 30, 2012 in Oxon Hill, Md. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)


Vikings quarterback Christian Ponder has proven himself to be cool under pressure this season, leading his team to an unexpected 4-2 start.

Likewise, he smoothly handled the breaking news that he’s dating an ESPN sideline reporter named Samantha Steele (she’s the taller one on the left).

“This is big news, huh?” Ponder said Friday when he noticed a crowd around his locker, via Tom Pelissero of “Good Lord.”

For a quarterback to date pretty and/or famous people is nothing new, and it’s also impossible to conceal in a Twitter world. In fact, Ponder and Steele were discovered when he accidentally tweeted her (not a euphemism) earlier this month.

“There’s been a thousand articles today about it,” Ponder said. “You can’t really worry about it. You’ve got to try to keep it private, but that’s just part of the industry, part of the job. I don’t know. Comes with the territory.”

He apparently met Steele on the set of “College Game Day” last year, and seemed rather pleased with himself.

“I’m proud of the relationship,” Ponder said. “I can brag. I’ve got bragging rights, I believe.”

That doesn’t mean his teammates haven’t been destroying him, with the offensive line referring to him as “Mr. Steele,” and tight end Kyle Rudolph saying it wouldn’t have happened if they weren’t winning.

“So, whatever,” Ponder said. “Christian Steele is kind of a sweet name, don’t you think?”

Sure it is, Chris. You go with that.