Christian Ponder is used to getting booed by his home fans, but never will you hear the quarterback raise his own voice in response. This week, Ponder’s coaches and teammates have been doing the speaking for him.
Two weeks ago Ponder heard the boos again when he took the field in the second half against the Raiders at TCF. Saturday against Arizona he didn’t play, but in a way that was even worse because it only pointed up how irrelevant Ponder has become (at least if you’re out there getting booed, you still matter a little).
When asked about the negativity being flung Ponder’s way this preseason, offensive coordinator Norv Turner had strong words for fans who deride their own quarterback.
“I was obviously disappointed, in the opening game, the way our fans reacted to Christian,” Turner said during his Tuesday press conference. “He has done everything he can do, and he has been working his butt off and I think he’s a guy that’s going to be valuable to our team.”
Greg Jennings on Wednesday added his voice to the chorus of Ponder defenders:
Greg Jennings on Christian Ponder: You boo one of us, you boo all of us. #Vikings
— VikingUpdate.com (@VikingUpdate) August 20, 2014
With all due respect to Turner and Jennings, I don’t think either man truly appreciates the deep, deep well-spring of frustration Viking fans are drawing on when they boo Ponder. The Vikings fanbase has had to endure decades without a true franchise quarterback, and fairly or unfairly, Ponder has become a symbol of that whole legacy of ineptitude.
They’re not really booing Ponder, they’re booing Rick Spielman and every other Viking executive who has failed so miserably over the years at the vital task of finding this team their Aaron Rodgers/Tom Brady-type QB.
Again, not fair to Ponder. But as a fan I understand the booing and why it happens better than Norv and Jennings, who haven’t been part of this whole Vikings thing of ours as long as I and a lot of other people have.
That being said, I get why Norv and Jennings feel the need to defend Ponder. I think it’s nice that they have his back. I think it shows that Mike Zimmer is building a culture that can be healthy and successful.
In the end however, the kind words about Ponder mean little to nothing. Because Ponder’s time has come and gone and the Teddy Bridgewater era is soon to begin. What Norv may have missed in that Raiders game was how quickly the booing of Ponder tapered off to indifferent silence.
Norv hears fans hating on Ponder, but I hear fans who have moved on from him entirely. I don’t know what you call it when someone is less than an afterthought, but that’s what Ponder is now, at least in the minds of fans.
Ponder may have a place in Turner’s plan, but with any luck, the Ponder component will never be a factor. Even Norv would have to admit, if Ponder plays this year, something went terribly terribly wrong.